If the oak before the ash…

…then we’ll only see a splash. If the ash before the oak then we’re sure to get a soak.

If this old weather saying carries any weight then this summer should be a corker…

This young ash on the corner of Montalt Road and Chingford Lane, Woodford Green, is much later into leaf than the adjacent oak
This young ash on the corner of Montalt Road and Chingford Lane, Woodford Green, is much later into leaf than the adjacent oak

Only I wonder how many of the ash trees I noticed on my ride back from Enfield this afternoon are struggling to survive let alone burst into leaf. The initial onset of chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) over the past couple of years now seems to be taking its toll in a much bigger way on ash specimens around the countryside.

The tell tale dead branches are becoming a lot more common.

Some have blamed the spread of Chalara on cheap imports of ash trees from Holland – the first cases were confirmed in a nursery in Bucks early in 2012. Efforts were made to find and contain affected specimens but, throughout East Anglia and the South East, the disease seems out of control.  It could be only a matter of time before the disease scars the landscape with dead trees in the same way that Dutch Elm Disease did in the 1970s.

From one poor management of trees to another – namely the ultra harsh pollarding of the London planes in Wanstead High Street. Whilst this style of management is nothing new and seems to be de rigeur among most London councils it does nothing for the scene of many roads and streets through the capital. What was once a rich canopy of green providing shady relief from the sun during high summer is just a few stumps. It takes a good few years for the canopies to regenerate – by which time it’s time for another visit from the tree surgeons…

Plane ugly: the harshly pollard planes in Wanstead High Street
Plane ugly: the harshly pollarded planes in Wanstead High Street

To blame, partly, is the spread of another tree pest – Massaria. This unseen pest ‘eats’ away the tops of branches – compromising the strength of the wood eventually to the point where, if unchecked, the whole limb comes crashing to the ground. London plane is very heavy wood – with branches weighing dozens of kilos there’s obviously safety issues with limbs dropping on peoples’ heads.

Though councils would argue otherwise I think the harsh pollarding is a cost saving measure – without this they would have the added cost of constant monitoring.

The fast-growing, non-native London plane was planted on the understanding that growth would be carefully managed and limited in height. But looking at some of the monster specimens around the capital that seems to have gone by the wayside a long time ago.

The City of London Corporation is well aware of the problem and is closely monitoring the capital’s stock.

If you have magnificent London plane near you make the most of it – the buzz of the tree surgeons’ chainsaws are getting closer.

 

 

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Kop this for a singularity

The last time Liverpool won the league in 1990 (by league I mean top tier of English football) the South East enjoyed a mostly dry, warm and sunny summer. A particularly hot spell in August of that year saw the UK high temperature record broken when the mercury reached 37.1C at Cheltenham on August 3rd, a record that stood until 2003.

Since the middle of December last year the weather has been remarkably similar to that football season when the Reds won their 18th league title. Both winters were remarkably mild and stormy with January 1990 seeing the Burns’ Day storm.

90 - 14

The mean temperature this year over the same period, December 13th to April 26th, is just 0.2C cooler than 1989-90, while rainfall is 2.1% greater and sunshine is 2.5% less. A remarkable singularity.

Will history repeat itself come the end of the season and the end of the summer? Up until early Sunday afternoon the stage seemed set. But a slip by Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard at the end of the first half gifted Demba Ba with a chance that opened the way for Chelsea to complete the double over their title rivals.

LiverpoolSquad1989-1990
The Liverpool squad of the 1989-1990 season won the club’s 18th league title

It must have been agonising for the Kop to watch, 24 years on from the exact same weekend the Reds lifted the title with two games left. The weather that followed that memorable day was dry, sunny and warm with temperatures reaching the mid 20s on many days.

Fast forward two dozen years and the weather looks decidedly unsettled, with frequent showers or longer spells of rain interspersed with sunshine. Though there’s doubtless many twists and turns left I wonder if Reds fans believe their title hopes are going the same way as the change in the weather?

Football’s a funny old game – just like the weather.

March 2014: Mild, dry and sunny

March 2014 will be most remembered for glorious sunny days that brought welcome relief after a run of seemingly endless wet months.

Pear blossom by Scott Whitehead
Many trees blossomed early this year, thanks to the mild winter

It also continued the mild theme of the winter; the mean temperature of 9.1C was 1.4C above average, making  it the 11th warmest March since 1797. Looking at my other series back to 1881 the March mean maximum was second only to March 1938!

Just 25.8mm of rain fell over the 31 days – that’s 63 per cent of average.

The month started on the chilly side but with plenty of sun around it felt pleasant. Though many days were warm clear skies led to frost and fog forming. Hail was observed on three days. 

The most notable weather occured on the 26th when the temperature fell from 10C at 1.30pm to 4C by 3pm. Heavy showers accompanied what was an utterly foul day. The cold pool persisted into the 27th with towering thunder clouds surrounding Wanstead, north, east and south – with reports of hail in Berkshire and snow in Folkestone.

The month ended with warm, sunny weather – the southerly flow bringing Saharan dust that deposited on cars. There were 4 air frosts  and 14 ground frosts.

Saharan dust fall on car, by Scott Whitehead
A southerly airstream brought dust that originated from the Sahara Desert

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