The ash and the oak

Wednesday 27 April 2011, 18:07

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway

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The bluebells are out early in Wales this spring and so too are the ash trees. They have burst into leaf early this year beating the oak, which is unusual. The last time this happened was in 1953 according to the Woodland Trust.

Normally the oak comes into leaf first and does much better in drier conditions.

Some people think that the race between the ash and oak can help predict the following summer. And there's an old rhyme:

Oak before the ash, we're in for a summer splash.
Ash before the oak we're in for a soak

The Welsh equivalent to the English rhyme is:

Os deilia'r derw o flaen yr ynn
Tywydd sych a gawn 'r ol hyn
Os deilia'r ynn o flaen y derw
Drwy'r haf fe fydd yn bwrw!

Thanks to Twm Elias from Plas Tan y Bwlch in Snowdonia for the above.

So could we be in for a wet summer this year? Possibly but not necessarily. There is no scientific evidence to support the rhyme and it has been wrong in the past!

We'll just have to wait and see and hope the summer is more of a splash with high pressure from the Azores bringing us spells of fine and warm weather.

Victoria Park in Canton, Cardiff. Photo: Phil England

Victoria Park in Canton, Cardiff. Photo: Phil England

In the shorter term, tonight will be dry but turning chilly. Temperatures inland falling close to freezing, especially in the countryside and rural areas, with some ground frost. So if you have any tender plants in the garden it might be an idea to cover them up or bring them indoors.

Tomorrow will start cool but soon warm-up with plenty of sunshine and it will stay dry. Top temperatures 15 to 18 Celsius. Cooler on some coasts with a breeze off the sea, nearer 12 Celsius in Fishguard and Prestatyn.

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    Comment number 1.

    HERE IN CARMARTHENSHIRE WE HAVE HAD OUR OAK OUT FOR AT LEAST 2 WEEKS , THE ASH STILL IS ONLY JUST OPENING UP. SO WE ARE DIFFERNET FROM WHERE EVER IN WALES YOU RECORDED THE ASH COMING OUT FIRST!!

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    Comment number 2.

    The oaks up in a wood near Aberystwyth are also out - but no sign of the ash yet.

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    Comment number 3.

    The oak is also miles ahead of the ash in Trefenter village in Ceredigion

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    Comment number 4.

    Oak before Ash. Derek was standing in front of the Manna Ash, Fraxinus ornus, which is a native of the Mediterranean region rather than Wales. It is indeed earlier than our Ash, Fraxinus excelsior. I have been keeping a close watch on the Ash trees at St Donat's and they are behind the oaks which are already in leaf

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    Comment number 5.

    Ash before oak! Is Derek having a joke?
    The true Ash tree is only just coming out here in Barry. The Oak has been out for about two weeks. The tree Derek was standing in front of on tonight’s weather forecast was a Rowan or mountain ash not an Ash per se.

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    Comment number 6.

    As above. Derek was standing in front of a Rowan or Mountain Ash. This is not the ash of the saying. The true ash (which still has its dead ask keys or seeds hanging on it), is only just starting to get it buds. So the oak has this year been well before tue ash and I the saying is true we will be having a hot summer. Oak before ash - splash. Ash before oak -soak. It has always worked for.me

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    Comment number 7.

    It's certainly unusual for the ash to burst into leaf before the oak, but according to the records logged with the Woodland Trust, this is just what has happened this year in Wales. Hundreds of volunteer phenology recorders around the UK log natural events of spring and autumn as part of the Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar project. The results can be viewed by all online.

    The first recorded leafing of ash in Wales this year was on 4 April in Cardiff. The first recorded leafing of oak was on 6 April, also in Cardiff. You can check out the results yourself by visiting: http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/map/all.htm

    Having opened this page, you need click on 'map' for ash and either pedunculate or sessile oak. You then move the curser forwards through time, so see the recordings appear around the country.

    Of course, they are doubtless many areas of Wales where oak has burst into leaf first. But it if take Wales as a whole then the ash was first this year, if only by a whisker.

 

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