Thursday, September 21, 2006

The end of conkering???


You may or may not have noticed what had appeared to be, early autumnal onset for the Horse Chestnet tree. Long before all the other trees started turning this year the 'conker' trees were going brown.

My initial reaction was to think that there was a weird onset of early autumn. What with the late spring, the record breaking hot July then the absurdly wet August, I didn't really think that the conker trees trurning brown was that odd. However, the horse chestnut is under attack from the worst tree blight seen since Dutch Elm disease wiped out the entire population back in the 70s.

The trees are under three pronged attack from drought, moth larvae and disease, and thousands of trees are literally dying where they stand. Many trees have failed to produced conkers this year and as many as 10% may be under threat this year.

However, as these are very much an urban tree and effected trees may lose branches, even if unlikely to die many may be felled for traffic and pedestrian safety reasons.

At present there is no way of knowing how this will effect the population. I for one am hoping they make through, I'd love my boys to waste the amount of hours I did throwing sticks in to the higher reaches of treetops.

14 comments:

Curmy said...

Six, I've noticed the trees in Suffolk have turned brown early, and there are very few conkers.

lucy said...

That explains it then. Just last week one of the many horse chestnuts we walk past was being shorn and i did wonder why. I features in one of my wedding photos and it makes/made a beautiful natural arch way.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

I discovered this 'conker canker' as it is nicknamed this time last year when I went out for a walk. Just up the road from us is a lovely piece of common land preserved for posterity to remain a common and a preservation area. There's something different, I thought and then it hit me like a sledge hammer. The beautiful avenue of horse chestnut trees was no more.

I noticed something pinned to a bin. A council notice stating that the whole avenue was infected with conker canker and the trees had to be removed. Some of those trees were well over 200 years old. My daughter cried.

They did replace some of the trees with semi-mature tress of some ten years old but they are tiny and unfortunately because of the summer we have had are now in death throes themselves.

It is so very sad. They are beautiful trees. I adore their blossom in Spring, rising like candles from the branches. They were brought to this country by a man called John Tradescant, a gardener in the early 17th century.

Six Years Late said...

I couldn't agree more Mags. They are beautiful and one of the few sources of free fun left. Eben at his tender age has been out picking up conkers this autumn not really at our behest, just because it seems to be a natural thing to do.

Our street is a tree lined boulevard and before we were there they lost three trees to blight. The trees were replanted earlier this year with very young cherries and for some reason I missed that they were struggling until about mid-July when I suddenly realised they were wilting badly.

I spent alot of July evening ferrying bowls full of water outside (very it's a knockout when your son wants to hold one side and ends up getting completely drenched, but heh it was boiling) to water them and I think two are going to pull through, one has definitely had it though, which is so sad.

Curmy said...

Good for you, re watering the trees Six.
I remember coming home from school with my satchel full of conkers.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

We were out collecting at the weekend. Many have already fallen naturally and it is early for that to happen. My daughter collects them to feed the squirrels during the winter.

Well done for saving those trees.

Story connected to conkers. Years ago when I living in Richmond, I went with my sister, her husband, my nephew and my boyfriend for a conker collecting hunt in Richmond Park. That coffee I had before we left worked its way through my system and I was desperate for a widdle. As you probably know, loos in Richmond Park are a rare thing. So I thought, hmmm, that tree over there hangs low, lots of heather to cover me, I'll relieve myself over there. Jeans down, bottom down and zap. Unbeknown to me boyfriend and brother in law have climbed the tree I have taken relief under and start shaking it from on high whilst I am mid stream, so to speak. Hundreds of conkers are bouncing off my head. Conker hunting has never been quite the same since!

Six Years Late said...

:-(

http://www.richmond.gov.uk/press_office/press_releases/press_releases_2006_08/close_watch_on_borough_s_horse_chestnuts.htm

Wastrel Rodent said...

Ah, I feel guilty now—there was a seeling growing inside the Choisya in my garden and I pulled it up.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

If it affected Richmond Park badly there would be such terrible consequences for the wildlife such as the deer. Oh and the park wouldn't be as beautiful.

Guess it's not a wise idea to go conker hunting there now.

Lucy said...

Well we picked up a few Huge ones this evening
:)

Six Years Late said...

I'm not sure I want to know about your huge ones Lucy

Lucy said...

Oh :(
Ok, I wont tell you that they are 13cm round and weigh 32g then...

Six Years Late said...

Do what?????? 13cm???? You do know what a conker is don't you?

Lucy said...

Certainly I do !
Why how small are yours??