Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Worrying Times

At this time of year a couple of days of warm weather can bring a real change to the countryside.  Plants suddenly spring into life and insects appear from nowhere.  Buds are now visible on some trees and flowers are slowly emerging, with common whitlow grass, dandelions and bell heather all  looking wonderful.  There are celandines on the cliff paths, daisies are spreading on the golf course, but I’ve found no violets as yet.  Tiny flies dance in the sunshine in the shade of our willow tree, a honeybee was in the garden this morning, and there’s been a report of a small tortoiseshell butterfly on the wing.

It’s a special time of the year for me when the sticky bugs of horse chestnuts burst, revealing vibrant green leaves; all seems to be in order again this year.  But this spring I worry how our ash trees will fare when the extent of ash-dieback disease is known.  There’s been a recent report of infected trees from Ceredigion to the west of here, but so far I’ve heard of none from Gower.  On west Gower oak and ash predominate, and there are some remarkable old trees in some of our mature woodlands; ash-dieback could dramatically change the landscape.  Elms were more or less eliminated a generation ago when Dutch Elm disease struck Gower.  I fear a similar catastrophe for our ash trees.

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