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Posts Tagged ‘burning’

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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it is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a cashmere cardigan (ruined by fire 2011 ) must be in want of a new gorgeous cardigan as a new year treat. (sorry Jane !) so reader I bought one (for myself).

more wild,firey  dawn awakenings outside. The colours these days are just Jackson Pollock on a  good day .Being a little tardy this morning , thought I would nip out to feed my sheep in cashmere cardie . Silly and foolhardy mistake as they have such a careless disregard for ones attire as they barrel at a rate of knots through the quagmire and splash mud like demented rally drivers. Blinded by mud and filth, they easily wrestle their nuts from my grasp and feast like maniacs ripping said knitwear on fence .Retire back to house besplattered and in need of dry cleaners. Get changed .

At the risk of sounding like an horrendous cashmere bore I can truthfully say that cashmere is the only thing to wear in the garden. Deliciously warm it really does the  job in insulation and warmth and looks vaguely glamourous as I cultivate my “interesting gardener” look as opposed to living scarecrow.Talking of scarecrows , the Galloping Gardener has recently written a wonderful blog about National Trust scarecrows !

Sparks though are the enemy of  woollen wear of any description. And now burning season is upon us one has to be vigilent of flyaway sparks and cinders which render ones garment a ghoulishly lacy web.Sadly, burning now halted due to driech weather.

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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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