If the oak before the ash…

…then we’ll only see a splash. If the ash before the oak then we’re sure to get a soak.

If this old weather saying carries any weight then this summer should be a corker…

This young ash on the corner of Montalt Road and Chingford Lane, Woodford Green, is much later into leaf than the adjacent oak

This young ash on the corner of Montalt Road and Chingford Lane, Woodford Green, is much later into leaf than the adjacent oak

Only I wonder how many of the ash trees I noticed on my ride back from Enfield this afternoon are struggling to survive let alone burst into leaf. The initial onset of chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) over the past couple of years now seems to be taking its toll in a much bigger way on ash specimens around the countryside.

The tell tale dead branches are becoming a lot more common.

Some have blamed the spread of Chalara on cheap imports of ash trees from Holland – the first cases were confirmed in a nursery in Bucks early in 2012. Efforts were made to find and contain affected specimens but, throughout East Anglia and the South East, the disease seems out of control.  It could be only a matter of time before the disease scars the landscape with dead trees in the same way that Dutch Elm Disease did in the 1970s.

From one poor management of trees to another – namely the ultra harsh pollarding of the London planes in Wanstead High Street. Whilst this style of management is nothing new and seems to be de rigeur among most London councils it does nothing for the scene of many roads and streets through the capital. What was once a rich canopy of green providing shady relief from the sun during high summer is just a few stumps. It takes a good few years for the canopies to regenerate – by which time it’s time for another visit from the tree surgeons…

Plane ugly: the harshly pollard planes in Wanstead High Street

Plane ugly: the harshly pollarded planes in Wanstead High Street

To blame, partly, is the spread of another tree pest – Massaria. This unseen pest ‘eats’ away the tops of branches – compromising the strength of the wood eventually to the point where, if unchecked, the whole limb comes crashing to the ground. London plane is very heavy wood – with branches weighing dozens of kilos there’s obviously safety issues with limbs dropping on peoples’ heads.

Though councils would argue otherwise I think the harsh pollarding is a cost saving measure – without this they would have the added cost of constant monitoring.

The fast-growing, non-native London plane was planted on the understanding that growth would be carefully managed and limited in height. But looking at some of the monster specimens around the capital that seems to have gone by the wayside a long time ago.

The City of London Corporation is well aware of the problem and is closely monitoring the capital’s stock.

If you have magnificent London plane near you make the most of it – the buzz of the tree surgeons’ chainsaws are getting closer.

 

 

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One response to “If the oak before the ash…

  1. Pingback: Veteran trees that make Wanstead Park | Wanstead Meteo·

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