Our garden at Yewbarrow House has about 2 acres of woodland, in which there are one or two ash trees. They are possibly the least satisfactory trees in our garden. In the spring, they are the last to produce their leaves. In the autumn, they are the first to shed them. They are long and gangly, not in the least attractive unless you go in for that sort of thing. In fact, I would guess that they are one of our least recognised trees, even though they are so ubiquitous. Everyone knows what an oak or a beech or a horse chestnut looks like, but if you ask someone to identify an ash, I would bet that nine out of ten would fail. However the ash has one quality above all of our native trees, which is that it makes excellent firewood, even, in fact especially, when green. Everyone should be encouraged to have a log fire – it’s one of the greatest pleasures in life.
So we should look upon the virus which is assaulting our ash trees as an opportunity, not a threat. It will rid our woods of some of their least attractive trees. And it will provide a plentiful supply of logs to keep us going through all those harsh winters which global warming seems, paradoxically, to be throwing at us.