They are crunching under my feet almost everywhere I walk, millions of acorns, more than I can ever recall. Is this a consequence of our changing climate? But it’s only the oaks as far as I can tell; the beech nuts are still the shrivelled triangles I find in most years and the sweet chestnuts are too small to be worth prising from their cases.
I have a problem in coming to terms with issue of ‘ash dieback.’ Scientists predict that nearly all the ash is doomed; if they are right we will see many more lost trees than elm disease ever visited on us. In our area I am seeing maybe fifteen percent of the trees affected in varying degrees, and none completely dead. This week I will be marking a twenty five year old plantation for thinning; ash is a major component – do I take them all out? That has been Forestry Commission policy, but I will leave the healthiest plants.
As to the elm, this year has seen the virus sweep through us again. Hedgerow trees which had re-sprouted and reached the critical height were leafless by midsummer. So I have made a pilgrimage to the long term survivors, six in Lount wood and one near Breedon. All are healthy I’m relieved to find. The Breedon tree is now sixty seven inches in circumference; I can barely get my arms round it.
Hope springs eternal – in their autumn colours our woods still look magnificent.