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ash (fraxinus excelsior)

in the wild

ash leafMagnificent large deciduous tree which grows up to 40m (130ft) tall.
It develops a large round crown on a shortish trunk and displays distinctive strong black buds in spring.

ash winter bud It's purplish flowers develop in April, before the leaves & stay on the tree until autumn or even spring the following year.

The leaves are late to open in May & stay green until they fall in autumn.

It prefers calcareous soils but can be found on all except poorest and acid soils (above ph 5.5). It is widespread across the UK except in the far north of Scotland.

Propagation: Collect seed in late summer & autumn. Keep in damp sand in a cool place over winter & sow in the spring

as bonsai

ash bonsaiAsh trees can make superb bonsai specimens.

They are not commonly grown because of the large feathered leaves & thick branches which can make delicate ramification difficult. For these reasons ash bonsai are best when over 50cm tall - it's difficult to get them to look in proportion at smaller sizes.

Position: They can tolerate full sun or more shady locations and they are OK in windy spots but you will have to water them more frequently (2-3 times a day on warm windy days)

Feed: every 2 weeks during the active growing season with a low nitrogen bonsai feed (low nitrogen to stop the leaves getting too big). Tree's in training can be fed higher nitrogen feeds in late spring / early summer.

Repot: in spring just as the buds are extending, every 2 years for trees in training, or less frequently for mature trees. Trim the roots back by up to 2/3's at the same time.

Prune: Mature trees should be pruned hard in spring, removing most if not all of the first sets of leaves as they emerge to encourage leaves to stay small.
Trees still in training can be left to grow on to thicken branches & trunks where required

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