The poplars create a vertiginous edge to this place. A mile long, five abreast, they act as battlements against the rest of the world. They halt regiments of chemically controlled wheat and rape. They offer look out points for crows and buzzards. They are our loud, fidgety boundary.
A Bryantt and May match factory in Norwich paid good money for poplar in the sixties so plantations sprang up all over the place on damp unpromising land. The factory has long since closed but these landmarks remain. Blocks of one clone or another, their uniform sameness is their beauty. All exact in hight and habit and colour. Each clone has it peculiarities. These ones are square topped and prone to rust. Dry, red leaves, the size of plates, clatter high above your head on a windy autumn day, until winter blows in from the west and strips them naked one by one. Within a week, from west to east, a mile of shivering skeletons.
Not far away a different stand, a more branching variety, produces flames, not leaves. My eyeballs gently poach in their warmth as I look at them. Monster matches, igniting spring. The tallest of trees, grown for nothing but splinters.
These genetically engineered giants mark wet places. They tell a story of fashion and economics and science in our man made landscape. They add layers of light and movement. They stop a view in it’s tracks, forcing your gaze up and round. They run at unexpected angles, bend to the wind and dare to prick our famously vast Norfolk skies.