web analytics

Maybe own a bit of history, kind of

That up there is the Wesley Tree in beautiful Winchelsea, the ash tree under which John Wesley preached his last ever outdoor sermon, 223 years ago today (spooky — I didn’t realize it when I started writing this post, but the date was October 7, 1790).

Actually, it’s not really. Tourists (or the devout, if you prefer) picked bits off of the original tree until a strong wind came along in 1927 and blew down what was left. This substantial tree was grown from a sapling taken from a cutting. So it’s kind of the historic tree.

Anyway, sadly, we’re having a serious ash die back over here, caused by a fungus, Chalara fraxinea. It turned up in Poland in 1992, ripped across Europe (Denmark lost 60-90% of their ash trees) and arrived in the UK in 2012, in a shipment of young trees from the Netherlands. There’s a lot of ash here, so this isn’t good.

So when the Wesley Tree looked unwell, everyone feared the worst. Well, it turns out the bugger has an altogether different fungus, the Hairy Bracket fungus. Which may or may not go along with an even eviller fungus, White Rot.

Damn, this tree hugging is complicated.

So what they’re doing up there is lopping off the affected limbs and hoping for the best. They’re also appealing for locals to take cuttings and seeds and grow backup trees, in the event of a bad outcome.

I was going to say, if any of my readers are Methodist arborculturists, you should totally ask for a cutting. And then I realized that might import ash dieback to the US.

So, bad idea. Forget I said anything.


Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: October 7, 2013, 11:03 pm

I swear to God that I first read the opening line as “the Weasley Tree” and thought, “So she names the trees after herself? Okay, her trees, whatever.”

Comment from Pupster
Time: October 7, 2013, 11:23 pm

We got problems with our own Ashes.


Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: October 7, 2013, 11:29 pm

Up here there is a thing called ‘white pine blight’. I’m trying to get some white pine to grow, and can’t have raspberry bushes because the blight goes back and forth between the two, and the deer ate my white cedar seedlings.

It’s amazing just how everything has a niche, everything has a pest or two, and getting one of those old growth forests, or those giant two thousand year old sequoia to maturity isn’t easy. But I can’t grow tomatoes either, so maybe it’s just me.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: October 7, 2013, 11:57 pm

I read it as ‘the Weasely Tree’ too 😉

Comment from Paula Douglas
Time: October 7, 2013, 11:59 pm

Yeah, we already have emerald ash borers here, as Pupster has noted The last thing we need is a fungus on top of that. I planted 6 acres with five species at my Illinois house (for sale: owner highly motivated), and among those species are white and green ash. They’re young trees now, only about 10 years old, so maybe by the time they mature and become beetle fodder the botanists will have found a pesticide that works on ash borers. But the little pricks have gotten the two mature ashes in the front yard.

Comment from Allen
Time: October 8, 2013, 12:14 am

Hee, hee. Who wants a Giant Sequoia seedling? The Tree Police and The Park Police are out harassing your average visitor, while I still have some access.

Comment from Olias of Sunhillow (#8 in 1976)
Time: October 8, 2013, 12:36 am

One would think that in a sane world the devout devotees of the itinerant preacher would refocus their priorities and graft the toe here, ear over there, maybe elbow over yonder… on some leftover spinster, scullery maid or village ‘tard.

A post about trees is good. Maybe as the day grows shorter The SWeasel enters the Druid period. Trees… moon and starry constellations… peat bog taxidermy… fertility incantations… kitten skinning in gibbous waning.

If all the ash and hickory dies, it will get better for a short while. All the Blighty Ol’ Dart will turn into a brushpile and these in turn attract small warmblooded vertebrates, aka. forage.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: October 8, 2013, 4:45 am

To each gallon of water add:

1 TBS flaxseed oil soap
1 TBS flowable sulfur
1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt, or fossil salt
1/8 tsp copper sulfate

Apply as a mist once a week for three weeks. and then monthly.

That is the only crop protectant I ever use, and I’m able to grow Pruneus varieties in a region where it’s not supposed to be possible.

I also do two applications of lime sulfur and mineral oil emulsion in the fall.

All of this is deemed “organic” in the Codex.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: October 8, 2013, 4:48 am

I mailed some horsetail plants to a Botanist collector in the UK once. It only cost me 3 grand to avoid felony charges, and stat out of jail.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: October 8, 2013, 4:48 am

STAY out of jail.

Comment from Mojo
Time: October 8, 2013, 5:09 am

Not the Hairy Bracket fungus!

Comment from Oceania
Time: October 8, 2013, 8:18 am

I can beat that.

Like a simple eukaryotic vaccine to protect the tree? Higher eukaryotes like Fungi are tricky to vaccinate against … but not impossible …

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: October 8, 2013, 1:22 pm

I’m pretty much a botanical illiterate; I don’t know an ash from an oak. The words “ash tree,” however, remind me of this ultra-creepy story (perfect for Halloween) by M. R. James: http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/jamesX05.htm Consider this my All Hallows’ gift to all of you.

(Yes, I have a black cat. A huge one, and long-haired. I need to take some pics of him and ‘shop some bat wings onto him.)

Comment from MikeW
Time: October 8, 2013, 2:23 pm

Aye, ’tis a sad state of affairs when some hitchhiking pest invades a new territory to the great detriment of a local species.

I live in Fairfax Virginia, on a mostly wooded one acre lot. When we moved here in 1990 there were dozens of wild Dogwood in our woods. We now have only one sickly specimen remaining due to the fungal invasion. The Virginia State Flower (and State Tree) has even been wiped out in Shenandoah NP where it made such a beautiful springtime display along Skyline Drive.

Hopefully your Ash won’t succumb to the level of devastation that the American Chestnut did. According to Wiki, 25% of the trees in the Appalachian Mountains were once American chestnut. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” anyone?

On a lighter note…
If a nut on the wall… is a Walnut,
And a nut on a chest… is a Chestnut,
What do you call a nut under the bed?
🙂 (This was a favorite old joke of my Grandmother. Just this G rated, only slightly impolite version, NOT the very vulgar version.)

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: October 8, 2013, 4:06 pm

Wonderful story, that, Wolfus Aurelius!

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: October 8, 2013, 4:56 pm


Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: October 8, 2013, 8:16 pm

Can’t Hark,

Thank you, sir! I read it originally in an Alfred Hitchcock collection, “12 Stories for Late at Night,” one of the ones he apparently edited himself, not just stories from the magazine. It contains one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read, “The Cocoon” by one John B.L. Goodwin, which still gives me the willies today. The collection also has (oddly) a science-fiction tale by Henry Kuttner and his wife C.L. Moore called “Vintage Season.”

I’ll bet you could find it on Abebooks (I’ve bought at least one AH paperback collection there) or maybe eBay or Amazon. It’s worth it.

Comment from kilroy182
Time: October 8, 2013, 9:22 pm

Saw this thought of you, SWeasel.


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: October 8, 2013, 10:03 pm

What do you call a nut under the bed?

Your biological father?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 8, 2013, 10:46 pm

Oh, man, Kilroy. That’s by a Spanish photographer who followed a mama stoat and her babies for weeks. He got some fantastic stuff. The BBC nature magazine had a whole spread on it.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: October 8, 2013, 10:49 pm

Dust bunny nut? I’m at a loss.

Wolfus Aurelius, I have the same collection (or maybe just a similar one; mine is called simply Stories for Late at Night, no 12. I checked Amazon and it says the paperback has 12 stories and the hardcover 24). Agreed that “The Cocoon” is scary. “Second Night Out” scared me so bad as a kid that I haven’t reread it in two decades, and “Back There in the Grass” gives me the willies. “Vintage Season” is indeed excellent. And my copy also includes that great classic, “It’s a Good Life” by Jerome Bixby. I definitely second your recommendation.

(Man, I can’t wait until my 2 year old is old enough for me to give him this book. I sure hope he likes reading, because there are a LOT of books I’m thinking that about!)

Can’t Hark is a lady-type, by the way. Fun fact: she and I have the same variant spelling of our mutual first name 🙂

ooo, just found the complete list of all the stories in an Amazon review. Here they are. Yes, Roald Dahl and Ray Bradbury wrote some scary crap. Yes, that is the same “The Fly” you know from the movies.

Death is a Dream – Robert Arthur
It’s a Good Life – Jerome Bixby
The Whole Town’s Sleeping – Ray Bradbury
Lady’s Man – Ruth Chatterton
Evening Primrose – John Collier
The Sound Machine – Roald Dahl
The Cocoon – John B.L. Goodwin
Vintage Season – C.L. Moore (as Lawrence O’Donnell)
Pieces of Silver – Brent Halliday
The Whistling Room – William Hope Hodgson
Told for the Truth – Cyril Hume
The Ash-Tree – M.R. James
Side Bet – Will F. Jenkins
Second Night Out (a.k.a. The Black, Dead Thing) – Frank Belnap Long
Our Feathered Friends – Philip MacDonald
The Fly – George Langelaan
Back There in the Grass – Gouverneur Morris
The Mugging (a.k.a. A Mugging at Midnight) – Edward L. Perry
Finger! Finger! – Margaret Ronan
A Cry From the Penthouse – Henry Slesar
The People Next Door – Pauline C. Smith
D-Day – Robert Trout
The Man Who Liked Dickens – Evelyn Waugh
The Iron Gates – Margaret Millar

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: October 8, 2013, 11:43 pm

I’m pretty sure I first encountered “The Ash-Tree” in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, James’s first published collection of stories; I pretty much love all his fiction (some more than others, of course). Also the wonderful Ramsey Campbell story “The Guide” about a man who buys a secondhand copy of a guidebook by James (he actually wrote a couple of those!).

And–yes, that Hitchcock collection looks worth looking for. I spend the period from Hallowe’en through the Winter Solstice each year reading ghost stories, which has necessitated accumulating a large collection (which assays out at probably about 65% drek, but that’s unavoidable when collecting short story anthologies); I’ll have to see about adding that one to the shelves.

And, oh, yeah–I’m REALLY glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t get the nuts joke!

Comment from MikeW
Time: October 9, 2013, 11:32 am

“Pecan” 🙂

As I mentioned, it’s an old joke. After I posted I looked to see if Google ‘knew’ the answer… dang, I really had to hunt for it. The other version, though, sure is well represented out there.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: October 9, 2013, 12:52 pm

Apologies, Can’t Hark; I’m sure you’ve mentioned your gender persuasion on here before, but I didn’t recall it. Sometimes it’s hard to know about these things on this here newfangled innernet, or whatever the town folks call it.

Mrs. Peel, yes, the “Stories for Late at Night” was the hardcover, and Dell broke it down into “12 Stories” and “13 More Stories,” to keep the paperbacks a reasonable cost in the days when they charged .50 a copy. They did that with a lot of AH’s collections. Millar’s “The Iron Gates” I haven’t read; it must have been a novel or long novelette, and wasn’t included in the paperback editions. You and Can’t Hark could try his other collections “Bar the Door,” which contains Ambrose Bierce’s “The Damned Thing,” and “Fear and Trembling,” which has another M.R. James tale in it. And then there’s “12 Stories They Wouldn’t Let Me Do on TV”!

I could make out a case that reading all of his early collections would be a solid grounding in sensational yet high-quality short fiction published prior to 1965.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: October 9, 2013, 3:23 pm

Not to worry, Wolfus Aurelius: after all, for a significant period of time in the early years of this blog everyone thought Stoaty was male, and it doesn’t seem to have abraded any skin off her nose. So I figure I’m in good company!

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: October 9, 2013, 7:59 pm

Oh, thanks for the answer, Mike. I would never have figured that out in a million years because I pronounce pecan “puh-CAHN” (i.e., correctly 😉 ).

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny