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The Tuesday tree: oak before ash

May 3, 2011

There’s an old bit of country lore that runs something like,

‘Oak before ash, we’re in for a splash; Ash before oak, we’re in for a soak.’

Here’s a typical example of what the oaks are looking like at Castle Beastie at the moment:

All the oaks are puffy with their new rusty green foliage.

And here is a typical little ash tree silhouetted against the bright sky:

Not very pretty at the moment, is it? Those dark clumps are bunches of last autumn’s keys. Compared to the bright green birch trees and even to the firs, this ash looks quite dead.

There are in fact a few hints of green on it, and a neighbouring ash is showing proper signs of new life,

but they are far behind the oaks this year.

Will the trees’ prophecy be borne out? We shall see!

For a more scientific explanation of these variations, I found Gabriel Hemery’s brief article interesting.

See also: Tuesday’s tree: sycamore

11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2011 2:02 pm

    How interesting and, as always, lovely photos. You’ve seen our ash tree in Wales, but sadly we can’t boast an oak, though our county used to be famous for them. Apparently Nelson’s navy sailed in ships made from Montgomeryshire oak and half-timbering was the preferred housing style for centuries.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      May 3, 2011 5:53 pm

      I’ve read that the Napoleonic Wars saw many areas denuded of oaks for the navy, although I didn’t know this was true of Wales as well. You do, however, have a most beautiful ash!

  2. Toffeeapple permalink
    May 3, 2011 6:46 pm

    I had remembered the saying earlier on but couldn’t decide which tree put out leaves first, so I think they must have done so together making it that we have no rain at all. That is certainly true of my area.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      May 3, 2011 11:29 pm

      It’s not often that we look forward to rain in Scotland but, I must admit, the trees and crops are starting to really need some. It’ll come, no doubt!

  3. May 3, 2011 8:36 pm

    What an interesting bit of lore…and lovely shots as usual!

  4. May 4, 2011 7:52 pm

    Interesting! I had always just assumed the ash was just very slow to leaf out – along with the chestnut. Living on top of an old eroded volcanic mass, where oak seldom grows naturally I’ve watched my small ash tree and the many other ash trees around come in at the tail of the poplars, maples of varying kinds, then the birch and then finally the ash – the south facing mountainside as I go up and down it to do my business in the more urbanized valley shows me everything burgeoning but still the ash, which are the predominant tree here on the south slope along with spruce appear dead….. even though forsythia and bulbs are blooming. Still and all a great finale for a very long and tediously snowt winter.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      May 4, 2011 10:49 pm

      Certainly our ash never seem to leaf until well after the forsythia has finished flowering. In a long wet spell such as Britain experienced in the 17th-18th Centuries, I think the ash might have got going earlier.

      You must be so relieved to see the beginning of spring at last after your winter!

  5. May 9, 2011 4:33 pm

    Thank you for the link to my website – which is how I found your delightful blog. I really enjoyed reading your various posts, especially The lime tree in those pictures looked wonderful.
    Keep up the great work
    Gabriel Hemery

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      May 9, 2011 6:41 pm

      Thanks very much, and thank you for visiting! We are lucky to have a large number of ancient, whiskery limes here.


  1. Spring Oak Haiku | Dancing Beastie

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