Today the tree of the day is ash. To the Norse, it was the tree of life. Vikings called themselves, Aeslings, men of ash, believing that the first man was made from an ash tree. The universe, they believed, spins on an ash tree axis, Ygddrasil, the world tree, which has earth in its roots, and heaven in its canopy. Legend says that when the ash trees die, so will we. Little wonder therefore that when the ash dieback disease struck in Denmark, it caused deep fear about how much we have destabilised our life support systems on earth.
This evening a lovely group of people came to the Gardens, to share a session of poetry and tree folklore. I know of no ash-derived drink, but elderflower wine and cordial stood in. It was such a beautiful evening we went out and sat on the grass under a beautiful big ash in the demonstration garden.
We discussed folklore about trees in general and ash in particular, and thanks to everyone for joining in, especially Amy for giving us a song. I was fascinated to learn about a tree in Belize, (Ceibe?) which looks like ash and has similar world tree associations.
I shared some poems by John Esterbrook (Tree Farm), Jo Shapcott (I go inside the tree), G K Dutton (Ash Tree) John Fuller (Ash) and William Heinesen (Trees and Stars), plus one of my own (Ash). I love the way poems can pick up on lore and make it personal. It’s the best way I know of keeping the old stories and knowledge alive.