Taking the Ash out

Unfortunately this year I am hoping some of the wood I am cutting will not grow back, unlike most of my coppicing. I have decided that the dieback I am getting on the ash trees is actually Chalera, and have reported it to to the treealert forestry research site.

Up until last year I had not noticed green leaves dying back, and the dieback was not generally associated with nodes.  I suspect that these specific parts of the symptoms are associated with more mature trees, rather than young saplings.  None of my trees is taller than about 8 feet or more than 6cm in diameter.  Previously I was just noticing dieback of new shoots, I noticed some symptoms as far back as 2012. But many of my young trees die back as a result of salt winds in winter on new growth, Hazel and Oak for example, so I wasn’t sure whether to be too concerned.

View of central Ash area

Last summer I noticed several trees where some new green growth had wilted, just fading away rather than turning colour like they do in autumn.  In addition, I could see some marking spreading from the branch nodes like the pictures show on the ash dieback pictures.  I have not really seen this before.

Dieback of Green leaves
Dieback at branch node

I don’t know whether the symptoms I have seen before were ash dieback, or whether it has just arrived this year.  Anyway, rather than just interplanting the ash with different trees as discussed before, I decided to try and remove the ash completely.  I have therefore cut the trunks right down as near to the round as possible.  This involved lifting up the vole guard, removing the grass to expose the trunk and cutting as close to the earth as possible.  The picture below shows the bottle vole guards catching the light showing the tree I’ve cleared around.

Clearing the grass from the trunks.

I am hoping that by leaving off the vole guards, that the little critters will eat any regrowth from the ash, although I suspect they may grow back a bit since some have been in more than 10 years now. Hopefully I will not need to dig out the roots as well.

Victims of Chalera

Although the trunks are generally quite small (and many diseased), there are a few that may be big enough to be useful as tool handles. I need a new rake handle as my best one was broken over the winter. The rest of the ash will only be useful as kindling, but I think it best to burn it as soon as possible, rather than leave it to compost as I would otherwise do.

I’ve still got just a few ash to take out: one or two that I’ve spotted which I missed the first time round, and a dozen or so right at the top, that were local provenance, but also don’t look good.  We’ve had a bit of snow this week, so I’ll wait till that thaws before finishing off.

Bamboo marks positions for two of the new hazels.

On a more positive note, I potted up another ten monkey puzzle seeds at the weekend.  Also my plants from ART have come.  I have decided where to plant my four hazelnut trees, and there are three blueberry bushes to plant too.  Also my Xmas present from my super younger sisters has come, at least the plants I bought with the Edulis nursery voucher have.  I therefore have plenty to do outside once the weather allows.

6 thoughts on “Taking the Ash out

    1. I think it will be a mixture. The italan alder and small leaved lime seem to have done OK this year, so if they continue this year OK, I’ll plant more of those. Also rowan and hazel, locally sourced if I can. Maybe some more birch and oak…I’l leave it till next year now, since I have enough on my plate just now!

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  1. It’s such a shame that ash die back is spreading to so many parts of the country, and now the islands as well. We have seen it in Wales in the woods near to our home and also in our own woodland in the Shropshire hills. It seems to particularly attack the small ash trees and they look much like your photos. We have one venerable old ash tree in the wood and so far I don’t think that particular tree has succumbed, but of course I can’t see what is happening high up in the canopy.

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  2. Yes. I feel a bit guilty, even though I was not to know at the time that the dieback was coming. It’s funny that the symptoms didn’t seem clear until this year. I don’t know what to think.

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    1. Thanks Suzanne, sorry to hear you’ve lost your ash too. I’ll probably leave the replacing till next year – I have just too much to do in the shop at the moment (I’ve got a grant to install more ‘zero waste’ dispensers but there’s a lot of organising to do…)

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