Last of Poplar Avenue Trees to be Felled
Poplar Avenue will be but a memory by the end of this month. Axemen are now felling the remainder of the trees, for almost half a century regarded as one of the scenic attractions of the countryside.
Situated on the much-travelled Pakowhai Road between Hastings and the Pakowhai bridge over the Ngaruroro River, Poplar Avenue was renowned throughout the province for its vivid splash of green in summer and delightful tints in autumn.
Poplar Avenue was planned as a landscape feature. It is believed that the trees came from a fine old tree between Pakowhai and Waiohiki and were planted by the late Mr William Nelson as fence posts after the 1897 flood.
They were planted on both sides of the road, which in those days was being spoken of as the first “national highway in Hawke’s Bay”. Subsequently the property was subdivided and the avenue became jointly owned.
The rapidly growing poplar cuttings soon became fine rows of trees. Even during the early part of the new century they had become noteworthy.
The late novelist, John Galsworthy spoke of the avenue as one of his most vivid memories of his visit to New Zealand.
Though the avenue was planted by man its disappearance is the responsibility of natural enemies of the poplars. Borer, rotting roots and age affected the trees until it became apparent that their life-cycle was nearing an end.
About 10 years ago, following evidence that broken branches were a traffic hazard during stormy weather on what was then a highly motorised high-way, the Hawke’s Bay County Council decided that the trees would have to be removed.
The Council’s decision reluctantly arrived at caused a storm of protests, but one side of the avenue was felled.
Now, however, the trees on the western side of the road are giving trouble because of their age, and the council has asked property owners to remove them.
On Friday afternoon the first two of the trees were felled and progressively over the next few weeks axemen will go right through the remainder.
Since the decline of Poplar Avenue as a showplace, greater prominence has been given to Oak Avenue, which at this time of the year is also a picturesque sight. Since the extension of the Hastings boundaries, it now borders the city.
Photo caption – POPLAR AVENUE AT ITS GRANDEST . – This is how the celebrated avenue at Pakowhai looked until ten years ago when the east side was felled. Now the remaining line of poplars will fall to the axe.