"..a bardy view!"

Sorbus – the Mountain Ash…..

No this is not about volcanic eruptions. But stay because this is equally interesting. The Mountain Ash I refer to is a tree which I planted 15 years ago when it was a mere sprog.

Visiting a garden centre back in 1995 I came across a forlorn looking twig that had a sad character about it

So touched by its abandoned distress I rescued it. When I got to the check-out the cashier wanted to charge me £5. "Five quid" I replied with horror "I am rescuing this poor specimen from abuse and hardship, I'm doing you a favour."

After much discussion with the store manager, I convinced him that indeed I was merely taking away some sad waif which needed a home, and without me it would wither and die. Such was my charitable concern, he was convinced that I was mad, gave it to me for free and waved us both farewell, happy in the knowledge that he'd got rid of two problems.

The twig had some label attached, not unlike that which Paddington Bear wore stating he was homeless. It said that it was a Sorbus, and could grow to about 15ft, required little attention and would bring joy to any landscape. I ignored the joy bit, but was happy that the growth (if it survived) was compatible with the rest of my garden.

Fifteen years later it has grown to 40ft, spreads half of that, and has a foot-wide trunk. It has indeed given joy, with abundant foliage, white blossom in spring and in summer turning to red berries and leaves reddening upon Autumn. After which, on the arrival of winter it stands erect and proud with not even a leaf to protect its modesty.

But something has gone wrong this year. For the last four weeks there has been an unpleasant smell pervading in the garden, akin to a dead animal rotting.

It was only today when visiting a friend five miles away that I discovered the problem. When I left my car, the smell hit me again, to the extent that I thought it was me and needed to change my deodorant. But looking around, the whole cul de sac was lined with Sorbus similar to my own. the cartoon bulb suddenly lit up blinking above my head. It's the trees!

This revelation has pleased me greatly in an odd sense. There is no dead animal matter in my garden. It is not my body odour but my old friend the Sorbus. I can tell my neighbours who were avoiding me that it's not me – its my tree. Why this has happened I know not. I have written to the BBC Gardeners Question time for answers. I have contacted the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

Something is happening to the UK's Mountain Ash. We need to know – the future of the human race may depend it.

OK – that's a bit dramatic, but the good news is that your personal hygiene is not in question. It's also a great reply to anyone who may question your body odour. "It's not me – its the trees!"

It will open up conversation – and seems like a great chat up line. Not that I need one anymore, although Mrs Bard is delighted to discover the truth!


May 25, 2010 - Posted by | Conservation, Culture, General, London, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Mine has smelt like that for years- one neighbour commented that I had a problem with my drains! Unfortunately it does not appearvto have survived the last two cold winters but I am to leave it and nurture it for the year and hope it comes back next spring


    Comment by | May 14, 2011 | Reply

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