It's been a busy month and suddenly halloween night is here and there are just hours left to publish October's Tree of the Month before November arrives. I was tempted to skip it this month but I didn't want to let my fans down - I know they would both be disappointed. And so on the premise that a very short 'tree of the month' is better than none....
It's a great autumn for colour this year and so many species would make a good choice of subject this month - not least our native Beech which gives any tree a run for its money for autumn colour. But there is far too much to write about Beech and no time to write it, and so while on a quick trip to the shops today I snapped a few photos of the showy Claret Ashes in town. Fortunately, they are a relatively recent variety and so there is relatively little to write about them - meaning I should easily publish in time.
The Claret Ash, otherwise known as Raywood Ash is a variety of the Caucasian Ash, Fraxinus angustifolia subsp. oxycarpa . Caucasian Ash was originally introduced in 1815 as a species in its own right, F. oxycarpa, but has since been re-classified. The varient Claret Ash arose in the Raywood Gardens at Bridgewater near Adelaide and was introduced in 1925 when Nottcutts Nursery in Woodbridge grew them from imported bud wood.
The tree became more widely available in the 1970's and has been extensively planted in towns and gardens for its compact shape and, of course, stunning autumn show. I do recall some council tree officers reporting noticeable branch breakage in windy weather and it appears this is particularly the case where conditions have favoured rapid growth. The tree can also reach quite a large size; the oldest tree - planted soon after 1925 by Nottcutts - is at Kyson Hill above the river Deben. It has a girth of some 5ft and height of about 80ft. Mr R C Nottcutt presented the land to the National Trust in 1930. The next largest tree is at Kew measured at 60 feet in 1971.