Wassailing apple trees is an ancient custom which is supposed to revitalise apple trees and improve their fertility. On the two occasions when we have wassailed the apple tree adjacent to the butterfly glade, there have been disastrous consequences. On the first occasion a third of the tree collapsed and fell – the stump of this episode is clear in the adjoining photograph. On that occasion the loss was totally unexpected. Sadly during the recent winter storms the rest of the tree has succumbed.
This venerable tree has stood for many years giving untold pleasure to those who use the wood. It was a wonderful sight to see the tree full of blossom and later to find the path carpeted with fallen petals. But it was in the autumn when it was crowned with an abundance of tiny crab apples that its true majesty could be appreciated.
Many people in Small Dole and from further afield will miss this magnificent tree and grieve its passing. However, dying is only part of the cycle in the wood. The tree will now go on to provide wood for our turners, fragrant fire wood and a home for numerous invertebrates. As what remains decays it will add nutrients to the soil for new trees to benefit from. Indeed, beside the root ball lies one of last years crabs, potentially this could grow into another great tree like its mother.
p.s. I’m sure wassailing was not really to blame, and the pageantry was great fun.