'If the oak before the ash, then we'll only get a splash. If the ash before the oak, then we're sure to get a soak.' I blame the rhyme for the way I always felt about ash trees. It wasn't that I disliked them, only that I never felt the same warmth towards them that I felt for oaks or hawthorns or limes. Somehow, they became associated with dismal, depressing days. I've always taken ash trees for granted, but since the news that they may now fall victim to an invasive fungus in the UK that has already killed 90 per cent of Denmark's ash trees, I've been looking at them afresh.
The oak usually beats ashes into leaf and the ash usually sheds its green before the oak. Their wood has been used for all kinds of furniture and tools for centuries, but it isn't as showy as walnut or mahogany, so it's never been as prized. Ash trees aren't iconic as oaks and holly are, they don't produce berries or acorns, but taking the dogs for a walk from one village to the next last week, I realised how many there are and what a huge gap they would leave. They shushed with the breeze, their optimistically upturned branches waving green frond-like leaves like a crowd come to cheer the Queen.  How I shall miss them if they all go! 
Oaks and horse-chestnuts are also under threat, and of course, I shall mourn them if they die, but if the ashes are wiped out, our future summers will be dull and dismal indeed.