News that ash dieback is already established in a number of parts of England, including for the first time in the southwest, reminds us just how much humankind has altered the natural ecology of the planet.
For whereas in millennia past, any infection such as Chalara fraxinea which is spread by the wind, would make only slow progress across Europe, and indeed may not have been able to cross a wide expanse of sea, today the disease moves just as quickly as humans move trees from one part of the globe to another. As a result, the disease spreads faster than the natural process of genetic mutation, which would, over time, select for trees with resistance to the disease.
On a more local scale, we have had to fell a large ash tree which was leaning dangerously over the courtyard of the farm here at Little Trewern. In fact, the trunk was seriously diseased (presumably not Chalara fraxinea!), and, once felled, we found that well over half of the diameter of the trunk had rotted away. On the positive side, this has made for some lovely planting containers, as well as two or three month’s supply of fuel for the wood-burner in the dining room.
So if you come to visit us in the cold weather, you will be warmed by the ash, sawn and split by Simon, and currently seasoning in the lower field. For as the old poem says:
“Ash green or ash brown, is fit for a queen with a golden crown”
Which reminds me!
I need to announce that Simon will, in the fullness of time, and once he has finished the current rounds of renovations around the farmhouse, be offering furniture-making courses at Little Trewern.
Keep in touch with us here for further news in the next few months.
Simon would like to point out that although he has now retired from Warwick Uni, he is still working half-time in Birmingham, and so has a more geological time-scale in mind!