This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An outstanding ash tree!

Here's an incredible ash tree that I stumbled upon today. It's well over a hundred years old, in perfect health, and with thin leaflets that give the plant a texture more like that of willow than ash. It's Fraxinus angustifolia, colloquially called frêne à feuilles étroites (which translates as narrow-leaved ash).

What I have yet to mention is the fact that I found this tree at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France. I met one of the horticulturalists and told him about emerald ash borer in Les Etats-Unis. He told me about some pest that is killing all the horsechestnuts in Paris.

At the same garden is this beautiful allee of London plane trees. Contrast this with the hodgepodge of species that are thrown together in the streets of Ann Arbor so as to avoid another catastrophe such as Dutch elm disease.

I suggest a compromise. Go ahead and use a single species on one block or on one street. Just don't make use of a single species for more than a certain small percent of the overall urban forest. There is nothing more strikingly beautiful than streets such as Cherokee and Harbrook where a single species is utilized (kentucky coffeetree and ginkgo respectively).

And here's one photo of the very extensive display gardens at the Jardin des Plantes. Ooh-la-la.


  1. I've seen that exact same row of London Planes, but in February! I think they looked even more striking then with the bark and branches nicely exposed. However, the rest of the Jardin des Plantes was not as exciting at that time of year. Did you see or did they still have the area dedicated to plants native to the Paris area? I thought that was interesting as well.

  2. Yes, it seems like the part devoted to Paris natives was a fairly recent addition . . assuming we are talking about the same collection. They had glossy buckthorn on display! And the label information included 'uses.' God help the plant species that has no 'uses'! But that said, it was a very interesting collection.

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