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Posts Tagged ‘bonfire’

IMG_0067This time of year – January  and February is the time of year when Paul and I start to burn down our Sussex Prairie garden and people are shocked and stunned and always ask us why . So it is time to tell the story.

IMG_5740Why do we Burn our Prairie ?

Big spaces require big solutions and our garden is no exception to this . We have probably now over eight acres of garden requiring to be razed to the ground at some point over the winter months. More traditional methods in your average garden would include cutting down with secateurs, scythe or strimmer. But we have a different solution because of the size of the task.

Burning is a quick , clean and dramatic way of clearing away all the dead last years growth and solves the problem of what to do with the mountain of material created in such a clearance.

IMG_1260Because it is Fun and a little bit dangerous !

Burning the garden on a big scale is a whole load of fun too and is one of the tasks our volunteers love to lend us a hand with . Everyone loves a good blaze after all .

IMG_5854How do you do it ?

In ideal weather and ground conditions we prefer to be able to leave the garden standing all winter and allow the winter frosts and winds dry the stems,stalks and leaves to a crisp.This would mean that on a windy and dry day we could burn the garden in situ without further ado. A dramatic and scary solution !

This year has been a bit of an exception with major wet  and warm weather leaving many plants green in many parts and this means that they  will not burn fully whilst standing in place. So we have created the bonfire burn this year . This involves building mini bonfires throughout the bed on the pathways and  we have had to cut and burn as we go.

However the big clumps of grasses have been burnt in their place and what a roar of flame and crackle of fire ensued!

IMG_5847But what about the plants ?

people ask do the plants get damaged ..?. well they don’t because we do this at a time of year when the plants themselves are dormant . Their roots  and buds are safely underground and are not damaged by the fire which moves quickly overhead (thats why we need a windy day to carry the fire quickly and ferociously over the top of the plants) A good Wind and Dry weather is the key !

 

 

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002

I am happy to still be cutting flowers for sale in our teashop. There are still plenty of flowers to choose from – ranging from eupatoriums, phlox,solidago, molucella, achillea,, veronicastrum, grasses ….and of course the fabby dahlias who go from strength to strength this time of year.The only criteria for a bunch is that it must be wild,free flowing and have  a taste of the wonderful about it.

012 moody ,jewel like colours  and a sense of a voluptuous stained glass window are the colours I favour…imagine the colours of a packet of Spangle sweets(I bet they don’t make them any more !) ..worringly acidic and sharp as glass …their fragments cutting your  mouth with shards like a sherbet lemon sweet, lacerating tongues and tastebuds alike…..if you like pink – just think -we have achillea love parade making candy floss curls through the bouquets.

001and the Marys among us , stop being contrary and look at what you can get from our British cut flower garden only yards away and no airmiles ,honest .. growing British without the groans and grumbles  of a pantechnicon lorry …only the comforting squeak of a overloaded barrow and the rubbery fold of a wellington boot…

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now is the time for the cut flower queens to go forth and cut to their hearts content.And now is the time for you to spoil yourself , your best friend, mum,dad,sister,brother, boyfriend,girlfriend.. any friend  or any foe to the best of the cut flowers available today…as autumn steels its hoary cape across the garden take those burnt oranges and build bonfires of colour in your hand

157gather up the trails of glorious gold and melting ambers, molten vermillion….and fan a flame in your arms…. from garden urn to humble jam jar cut  flowers will always make the final cut !

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burns day !

when everything comes together perfectly in a crescendo of good drying weather and a wicked wind we get a ‘burnin ‘! yesterday with our trusty squad of Friends of Sussex Prairies we made a huge impact on the big border with burning squads , cutters,snappers and fire feeders. Exhileration and wild abandon as flames licked and roared and caressed the garden all at once. Gradually we worked through the groups of tinder dry stalks and seedheads… The grasses are the best to catch alight but still have green in them which is unheard of normally at this time of year when all should be sepia tones and black and white through repeated frosts and winter squalls. You soon get to know which plants are the best kindling pieces, which plants are a soggy mess and which plants are Ray Mears dream. Bush tracker skills live in action as swathes of the garden burn in fury and fearsome fervour !

the fire captain Paul

Now , it is not so good on your face , this burning lark . The hidden costs of extreme guerilla gardening. I am sure Laboratoires Garnier would have quite a bit to say about ravaged skin , ruddy cheeks and windlashed epidernis. In fact it is the horticultural  equivalent  of a facial peel without the subtlety of soothing ungents.Have also discovered a potentially  winning  fragrance : Eau de Bonfire. Subtle woody notes tempered with a beguiling hint of ash and crispy cinder. Coming from the anarchist wing of the La Prairie stable .. this one is sure to be a runner !

prairie going up in smoke

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