• Demise of an old friend

    When all about us is chaotic and filled with worry and uncertainty it seems almost trivial to talk of losing an old friend tree, but it's what I feel. For thirty years I have walked past a large ash tree in the bottom of Brockhampton Woods near Bromyard that bears a huge burr about ten feet from the ground which always reminded my of some uncanny yet benevolent tree beast (I hesitate to say spirit - all a bit too esoteric perhaps). I love discovering anthropomorphic aspects in trees - yews always great candidates, but ash very seldom. It used to make me wonder if I was the only one who passed by this tree and saw what I saw, but I'm guessing (hoping) it wasn't just me and that others will mourn this trees passing.

    I incorporated its image in my recent book "ASH", posing the question as to how long it might survive, either to the ravages of ash dieback or the buzz and snarl of the forester's chainsaw. The latter event has been its untimely end. I walked down into the wood a couple of days back and it seems the National Trust have decided to have a culling of all the large ashes - probably to make some revenue from the timber before the trees are hit by ash dieback, or perhaps it's for safety reasons as the public walk the woods. It's rather sad that the foresters couldn't spare this incredibly characterful tree with its rare and weird protuberance. Just maybe they could have tried turning it into a pollard. Nope! Down it came with the rest, although I notice that someone has tried to cut off the front of the 'face', but without total success (probably the bar on the chainsaw wasn't quite long enough). However, they did succeed with a smaller section off the back of the burr. The inside is truly beautiful with swirling, eddying contours. I'm guessing that the huge front face will be even more fascinating. I estimate that the tree was probably about 100 years old and I suspect that the burr had been growing from its very early years, but what on earth caused it to happen in the first place?

    I will miss this old brooding ash tree chum.

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