Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ashes to ... ashes?

Has anyone had problems with ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) this year? I know in the States, it is very common for ash trees to suffer from anthracnose, and there is a real threat from Emerald Ash Borer, but I can't find much on ash problems here in the UK.
There is a huge ash tree in a neighbouring garden growing right up against my fence, so quite a lot of its leaves fall in my garden. I've noticed this year that the leaves have fallen all summer long. Initially I put this down to it being quite a horrible summer, with lots of heavy rain and wind that could have ripped bits off it. However, I'm now beginning to wonder if this is the result of anthracnose.
The trouble with ash leaves is that the whole frond, as it were, drops rather than individual leaves, so it's easy for them to get hooked up on plants and in ponds. You have to go round with a rake and tease the stems out of things such as ferns and ponds, unlike normal leaves, which eventually just percolate down to the ground.
Normally, I collect the leaves in my garden and turn them into leafmould, or leave them to rot where they are, if they are in particularly inaccessible places. However, if the tree is infected with anthracnose, I suppose I shall have to collect up all the leaves and destroy them (ie take them to the tip) instead of composting them. (We're discouraged from having bonfires here in London, unfortunately, because of smoke nuisance to neighbours.)