Want to confuse an environmentalist under the age of thirty? Shove one of these under their noses and ask them what it is:
Elm has very much become the ‘forgotten tree’, but it still perseveres, suckering away in hedgerows, a persistent reminder of how quickly an apparent stalwart can disappear from the landscape and the collective memory. I don’t think I’ve seen a mature Elm tree, but I’ve scouted around the base of many a juvenile, peering up into the canopy for hairstreaks. It almost seems unthinkable that in a few decades time you could conceivably wave the leaflets of an Ash tree violently in a young conservationists face all the time jeering at them ‘So what’s this, youngster, eh? Eh?….EH? You don’t know do you? Kids these days…’ only to be met by blank stares. Or retreating backs. Whichever.
But the Elm is a reminder that such things are possible. Likely, in fact. You can count on it almost as much as you can count on the jeering of the old brigade as they stroke their beards and reprimand you for not knowing your willow tit from your marsh. I look forward to having the authority and stately-ness to give the whippersnappers a good jeering. For now though, I’m off to wallow in doom and gloom.