Oak and ash – myth or fact?

“Oak before ash, in for a splash; ash before oak, in for a soak”

Thus runs the old country saying, suggesting that if the ash tree comes into leaf first, there will be more rain than if the oak tree does.

This year, the ash trees are still only just coming into bud whilst the oaks have already started shading from the ochre of new leaves to the lime green of older ones – two weeks or more difference is unusual here. Funnily enough, it has been quite dry…

Based on my past experience, there’s about a 50% chance of this saw coming true,and given the unpredictability of spring weather in England, that’s about right. Some of the time, the two coincide anyway so who knows what the answer is.

I found a page on the Field Studies Council web site that graphs these phenological events, and suggests that oak trees are usually earlier these days as spring gets warmer.

And what about the other common trees? Beech, field maple, hazel, blackthorn, gean, willow, may, sycamore and horse chestnut have all beaten the ash this year. And may beat May – the blossom has been out for over a week now.