(13) THE ASH
The ASH (Fraxinus excelsior, L.) is in Britain next in value to the oak as a timber-tree. It requires a good deep loam with gravelly subsoil, and a situation naturally sheltered, such as the steep banks of glens, rivers, or lakes; in cold and wet clay it does not succeed.
As the value of the timber depends chiefly on its toughness and elasticity, it is best grown in masses where the soil is good; the trunk is thus drawn up free from large side-branches.
The tree is a native of Central Europe, and is easily propagated from seeds. It throws up strong root shoots. The ash requires much light, but grows rapidly, and its terminal shoots pierce easily through thickets of beech, with which it is often associated. Unmixed ash plantations are seldom satisfactory, because the foliage does not sufficiently cover the ground; but when mixed with beech it grows well, and attains great height and girth. Coppice shoots yield excellent hop-poles, crates, hoops, whip-handles, &c.
The timber is much used for agricultural implements, and by coach-builders and wheelwrights. The supply of this valuable timber is annually becoming more limited on account of the decreasing use of hedgerow trees.
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