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Ash – A Forgotten Landscape Tree For Private Gardens - by Jonathan Yaakobi

While Ashes are quite commonly planted in public parks and gardens, and even as street trees in some places, they are rarely seen in private gardens. Perhaps many homeowners feel the tree is a bit “common”, or lacking in showy flowers and edible or decorative fruit. This is a pity because in terms of natural shape and form, ashes can be amongst the most beautiful of landscape trees available to gardeners. Their neat, oval shape is very distinctive and virtually unique.

Other than their landscaping qualities, there are many good reasons for considering Ashes for a private garden. They are fast-growing, hardy to heat and cold, (at least the deciduous species) and generally withstand attacks from pests and disease without the need for intervention. As they have a clearly defined shape, they require little pruning, at least for shaping purposes. Ashes do not possess aggressive roots, and so can be used as excellent shade trees in the patio.

Another very significant property is that they grow well in alkaline soils. This makes them particularly suitable for dry, Mediterranean climates, although they do need some additional irrigation through the summer. While the deciduous species can take quite severe winter cold, even the evergreen ones are hardy to any cold to which a Mediterranean climate is liable to reach.

Species do vary in their height and spread. Fraxinus pennsylvanica (Fraxinus is the botanical name for Ash) and F.udhei, are deciduous and evergreen respectively. Both are fairly large, reaching over 10 meters (30ft) in height and spread, and so are inappropriate for small gardens. F. velutina, of similar dimensions, is native to South-Western US, and withstands both the extreme heat of a desert, and cold down to about -20c. Its shape is almost pyramidal when young.

There is no point in planting such species in small spaces, with the intention of shortening branches that intrude into paths and buildings. Such pruning ruins the natural shape of the tree, and so it is very important to choose a species that is suitable for the plot.

For small gardens, Fraxinus syriaca from the Eastern Mediterranean can be a fabulous addition to the garden composition. In fact, its open, habit and finely fissured bark, are so beautiful, that the tree can serve as a focal point in the garden. Added to that is the lovely fall color which is particularly pronounced in climates that experience even light frosts in the winter.



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Jonathan Ya'akobi

Your Personal Gardening Coach
 



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