One of the big issues we have had to deal with in the gardens this year is Ash dieback. This is a chronic fungal disease of Ash trees characterised by leaf loss and crown dieback in infected trees. It is now widespread in Europe. According to the Woodland Trust, Ash dieback will kill around 80% of Ash trees across the UK. We are currently in the process of felling the majority of the Ash in the Woodland Garden and Woodland Walks. This drastic action is necessary now because as the trees decay, they become unpredictable and thus dangerous to fell. We can’t risk leaving large Ash trees standing, even if they look healthy, unless they are well out of the way.
Most of the Ash has been felled by forestry contractors using large machinery which has made a great deal of mess which now has to be cleared up, but we are hoping that most of the debris will be cleared and the undergrowth will be growing back by next summer. We will then need to start thinking about re-planting the glades with a mixture of other species.
There is some hope on the horizon as Initial findings suggest that there may be some trees that are tolerant of Ash dieback, meaning that the population could eventually recover over time. Within the garden there are several smaller, currently healthy-looking Ash trees which I intend to retain in the hope that some of them might have some resistance to Ash dieback. As the disease originates in Asia there are some Asian species of Ash which it is suggested may have developed resistance to the disease and we might consider planting some of these in future.