• To pollard or not to pollard

    Up in the Welsh hills on Saturday to revisit a couple of ancient ash trees that I hadn't seen for about five years and quite startled to find that this particular one has undergone a bit of self-pollarding in the windy weather only a week or so back. The poor old thing has split asunder, dropping about a third of itself, which is very sad when we have relatively few seriously old/large ash trees. Of course the reason this happened is largely due to the cessation of pollarding a long time ago - I'm guessing that nobody had touched the tree for at least 50 years and almost certainly a lot longer. The boughs had just grown bigger and longer, slowly putting greater and greater leverage on the hollow bole, until it all became too much. If we want to keep such trees with us a little longer it means that repollarding or perhaps crown reduction is the answer, but on such old trees it needs to be done with much care - perhaps in two or three phases so that the tree is not traumatised. Truth to tell with this one is that it is so remote that few people would know of its existance and even then nobody really gave its management much thought.

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