Suitable trees to replace our Ash Trees
The ash is the dominant tree in our hedgerows here and we need to replace them to support our landscape and maintain or increase our storage of carbon. The next question is what to replace them with. No single species can perfectly replace the ash either for its environmental services or for the plants and animals that live off and with the Ash. It is important that several species are used as replacements depending on context.
Promoting existing suitable trees in the existing hedges is an excellent way to do this and within our hedge rows are suitable species: Oak, Field Maple, Sycamore and Wych Elm are the ones you are most likely to find.
If you are able to plant extra trees into a hedge or if creating a larger tree area then there are more possibilities as well as the above. Trees that are less well known should be considered; Small leaved Lime which is a tree traditional to this area, Alder where it is not too shaded or very dry, Aspen, Rowan, Common Walnut, Hornbeam, Beech if the location is not too dry and its dense shade not an issue, and wild Cherry.
The impact of climate change on our weather means that we also should consider some less common local trees that are in our hedgerows in small numbers such as Whitebeam and the more unusual Wild Service tree as well as Sweet Chestnut, which may well thrive as the climate warms. If the planting area is down on the levels then varieties of willow including Goat Willow and if you can get it Black Poplar.
If you are planting a small block of trees then it is sensible to plant understory trees (ones that do not grow as big or are shrubs) as part of the mix as they protect the canopy trees and encourage them to go up. They are also suitable in a hedgerow. There is plenty of diversity here. We are all familiar with Hawthorne, Hazel and Blackthorn but our hedges and woods contain many more and biodiversity is enhanced by the inclusion of some of the following: Wayfaring Tree, Buckthorn (there are 2 species) Holly, Guelder Rose , Spindle, Wild Briar, Crab Apple and Dogwood.
Trees for gardens
The tree group has produced a summary of trees suitable for planting in small gardens taking into account their ornamental value and environmental benefits. It can be downloaded here.
Planting at Lynchcombe.
A short article describing tree planting in the Lynchcombe nature reserve, which appeared in the newsletter of the Somerset Wildlife Trust, can be found here.
More on Lynchcombe planting
An article which appeared in the February edition of the PEW is here