Ash, or the Fraxinus, L. is a genus of which there are six species. Of these, the most useful is the common indigenous ash, or Fraxi-?uts excelsior, L. which is well known to every rural economist.
A plantation of these trees, when properly managed, seldom fails to prove of great advantage to the owner ; for the underwood, which is fit to be cut every eight or ten years, will produce a regular income, more than adequate to defray the rent of the ground, and other charges; besides which, trunk or stock preserved for timber, will be worth forty or fifty shillings and upwards, per tree. It flourishes best in groves, but grows well in the rich soil of open fields: it also bears transplanting and lopping. In the north of Lancashire, they lop the tops of these trees in autumn to feed cattle, when the grass is on the decline,
The ash-treee delights in a rich, light soil ; it attains its great height and perfection when at an age. of from forty to fifty years. Although it also grows in wet and loose grounds, yet, when reared in these, its wood becomes less firm and durable. It prospers remarkably well on a white calcareous soil and is also frequently found in a thriving state near brooks and rivulets.
—The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, etc. at London, considered the cultivation of the ash of so much importance, that, in the. year 1779 they gave a premium of twenty pounds, and in 1/90 their gold medal, to Mr. Day, of Friendsbury, near Ro-chester, for an account of his successful method of rearing it. The whole is detailed in the first vo-lumeof their Transactions ; and we shall only observe, that Mr. Day is enabled to plant one thousand trees for two shillings ; by his method, fourteen acres, three quarters and thirteen rod, out of sixteen, acres, three quarters, and twenty-. seven rod, are planted at the dist-ance of four feet, by two. To till this extent of ground, there are required 80, 682 plants : two acres and fourteen rod are planted at a distance of two feet, by eight inches, which takes up 06, 400 plants. The reason for planting twice as thick one way as the other, is, that in such manner they are. much easier to till. He has ascertained by experience, that there is an essential difference between wild ash and those which are trained: hence he advises all the crooked ones to be rejected, and particular attention to be paid in getting the ash-keys. There is another advantage attending his plan, that potatoes may be planted between the rows.
The emulation excited by the above and similar premiums, produced such effects as might be expected to result from so extensive and honourable a patronage. In the year 1790, the gold medal of the Society was adjudged to Lewis Majendie, of Hedingham Castle, Esq. and the silver medal to H. fix. Fausset, of Heppington, near Canterbury, Esq. The first mentioned gentleman planted on seven acres and twenty-one poles, of a principally loamy soil, the surprizing number of nineteen thousand trees, of four and five years old, at intervals of four feet. In a subsequent paper, Mr. M. recommends the soil to be completely trenched, previous to planting.— Mr. Fausset intermixed willow with his ash, and planted them at the distance of three feet and a half, in the proportion of three willows to one ash ; so that, on the decay of the willows, the ash plants remain seven feet asunder. The following is a sketch of his method : the stars denote the ash, and the dots the Willow-plants.
The ash, when young, requires constant cultivation, for want of which it will be stinted in its growth, and often remain for twenty years together without making any progress; it is brought forward much sooner, when sheltered by other plants.
An improved method of planting this tree, for hurdles, hoops, laths, fencing, and what is termed post and billet for collieries, is described by a correspondent in the fifth volume of the Papers published by the Bath Society.
The leaves of the ash appear late and fall early : it is therefore unfit to be planted for protection or ornament. Its timber ranks next in value to the oak; and it ought, when sold, to be measured to a much smaller girth than either oak or elm.
The wood of ash possesses the uncommon property of being almost uniformly good, whether of young or old trees. It is hard, tough, and much used in making the different implements of husbandry, but particularly for hop-poles. Its ashes alford very good pot-ash; and the bark is employed in tanning calf-skins. The seeds are acrid and bitter, and the leaves have been used for the adulteration of tea. Poor people formerly derived considerable advantage by collecting them; but we understand this practice has been prohibited, as it tends to diminish the revenue. We may, however, venture to say, that the leaves of the ash are as wholesome as those of the the tea-tree: the latter, like most other evergreens, is of a doubtful, if not pernicious, quality, independently of the circumstance, that our teas may also partake of the fraudulent practices of the Chinese, Inch most of their goods are liable.
In rural economy, it has been asserted, that the leaves of the ash impart a bad taste to milk; and it is therefore seldom suffered to grow in dairy farms. Those leaves, however, are eaten with avidity by horses, sheep, and goats, for which animals they are considered as good fodder.
The bark of the common ash is used in dyeing. It is placed for some time in water, with a solution of vitriol, by which the water acquires a black colour. The Mor-lachians boil the bark for the space of eight days, with the dross of iron, and, when the solution has grown cold, they use it for dyeing black. With cold water, the bark makes a lixivium of a fated colour, which displays azure and greenish shades; but. foiled water is- not proper, as it renders the dye and brown. Warm water is preferable, as this produces a
Maeish lixiuum, which imparts fine blue colour to yarn, partieu-farry if it has been previously dyed yellow. According to Dambour-eet, the fresh shavings of ash, give to wool, . prepared with bisfouth, the, the true and permanent rigogne colour.