18 November 2008

The most wholesome shade

There are still a large number of aspen trees (Populus tremula) in Brede High Woods, perhaps because their charcoal made good gunpowder and the tree was therefore important for the old gunpowder works near the reservoir dam.

20081104 021

The leaves (above) are said to very palatable to deer and domestic stock, but the sucker shoots do not seem to be much damaged in Brede High Wood. 

The wood once had all sorts of uses such as making herring casks and wooden pails, perhaps because it wasn't much good for more important work such as building, fencing or ship making.

In some areas aspens were coppiced on a two year rotation to provide fodder fresh and dried for cattle, sheep and goats that were said to be "passionately fond of them."

Loudon in his Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum said "the shade of all poplars is considered more wholesome than that of any other tree; and that of this species [the aspen] is thought better than any of the others."  What a splendid piece of research - wandering around the countryside and reclining in  the shade of different trees to work out which was the most wholesome.  It the case of the aspen, I reckon the constant rustling of the leaves had a particularly relaxing effect like the sound of flowing water.

20081104 019

In one of his reflections on mortality, William Wordsworth penned the following lines (he seems to have been aware that robins have a distinctive sadder song as the end of the year approaches):

Thrice happy quest/If from a golden perch of aspen spray/(October's workmanship to rival May)/The pensive warbler of the ruddy breast/That moral sweeten by a heaven-taught lay,/Lulling the year, with all its cares, to rest.

blog comments powered by Disqus