Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 7 October 2012
All this talk of English Oaks at party conferences has been somewhat overshadowed by the imminent arrival of a catastrophic disease affecting Ash trees, which could be imported on Ash saplings from overseas.
Anyone living in my part of the country will wonder why on earth anyone would actually want to pay for an imported Ash tree, as they grow like weeds around here, and are viewed by some as an arboreal pest.
Every year, I have to clean out the gutters on my workshop, and an 18 foot run will always include about 6 little Ash saplings which would wither away in the winter for lack of nutrition anyway, if I didn't pull them up and throw them away.
My workshop is situated in an area called 'Ashley', and it has been known as such since history began. The name denotes a 'lay' (track) or 'leigh' (tract) marked by the bloody things, so you will further understand that there is no shortage of this particular species in the area, and there will be no shortage, just so long as nobody is stupid enough to pay good money to an overseas nursery to import any.
I did some work for the late Lord Weinstock after the storm damage of the 1980s (that storm was an ill wind which blew good for me), and noticed that he had devoted a large part of his large garden to the cultivation of Heather. The house is situated on very alkali soil, which meant that he must have instructed his gardener to import tons of acid soil which Heather needs to thrive, before he imported the actual Heather.
At the back of The Circus, Bath, right next to a museum garden which has been laid out in the classic 18th century manner, someone - about 30 years ago by the look of it - has planted a Eucalyptus tree which towers over it and stays in leaf right through the winter. I am amazed that they did not put a few Koalas in it at the same time, just to give us all a taste of Australia.
There have been many plants which have either escaped the strict confines of Kew Gardens or been liberated by extreme botanists, and are still marching down roads and river-banks on their inexorable way to the coastlines of Royal Albion, so they do not need any help from old ladies with concealed pruning knives in order to colonise foreign lands.
If you hold the view that regional flora should be kept as such and the introduction of species from other areas should be avoided, these days this somehow marks you out as - at best - anti-European, or - at worst - downright racist, even though it is 'only' plants we are talking about.
Have we really reached the stage when it is politically incorrect to complain about the way that the difference between various regions - both here and mainland Europe - is being eroded by the forced introduction of alien species in the countryside and multi-national corporations in town centres?
If anyone wants to plant Ash trees in their area which - historically - has been devoid of them for hundreds or thousands of years, then at least don't buy them from France or wherever. I can give you as many English saplings as you like - for FREE.