Friday 17 December 2021


Just when I was gearing up to chainsaw some logs into fire-wood lengths, I found that a huge lump of a branch had fallen from a great height from the tallest and shapeliest of our mighty ash Fraxinus excelsior trees. This tree is definitely symptomatic for dieback judging from the baldy look it acquired this Summer. It is awkwardly placed in the very top corner of the garden where I have my 1 tonne IBC full of water against a droughty Summer and all the concrete blockwork compost bins. Maybe 20 years ago a large branch plummetted to earth from this tree and embedded itself in the ground well within the foot-print of the polytunnel which we put there a few years later.

I couldn't blame Storm Barra for last week's descent to earth but descend to earth it did. Miraculously missing the water container right beneath the broken branch stump and laying neatly between the annual compost bins and the kitchen-compost ditto. I noticed that the wood where the branch had split from the mother-tree was covered in a white mycelia and my first through was this is what happens with ash-dieback.  But the next couple of logs cut from the fallen branch showed a twisted green-stick fracture and a lot of humussy sponginess in the resulting void. In other words nor diebacjk pandemic but quite normal cycle nothing to see here. It is amazing that the tree can sustain such a sub-fatal fracture to one of its branches in a storm and carry the damage for years - setting down new lignin fibres to compensate for the loss of structural integrity. But note also the crack also opened an entry point for the white rot fungus. Immune protection is a combination of physical and chemical barriers.

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