Monday, 12 July 2010


My ancestors loved planting evergreen shrubs such as laurel and to a lesser extent, thank goodness,  ponticum rhododendrons, to give more interest to the woodland walks.  That of course was all very well when there where lots of men, as there where when I was a boy, who every year, armed with sickles, would trim the laurel growth back down.  But then one day there was no money to pay such men anymore and the laurel and ponticum left to itself went rampant till the woodland walks became literally impenetrable jungle.  For more than thirty years I have been happily hacking away at these evergreen monsters using them, in effect, as a form of outdoor gymnasium, and getting not only fitter and thinner as a result  but also enjoying a feeling of immense satsfaction at viewing the resultant improvement in my woodland walks.  A key part of the process is -of course - the bonfire.  I suppose in the current world a whole generation is going to grow up who have never made a bonfire as either they have been forbidden under some Health and Safety rule or banned as contributing to global warming.  That is sad as making a bonfire and getting one going to such a pitch that it will burn anything however green and full of sap it is that you can thow on it - is a noramlly highly skilled process.  Not though at the time of writing.  The hot summer has meant that bonfires virtually light themsleves and burn furiously within minutes. Oh what fun it all is and Oh how better my woodlands look because of the magic of the bonfire.   


  1. That rang a bell when you mentioned laurels. Fear not, a bonfire probably releases no more CO2 than leaving the wood to rot. I've just had all the laurel trimmings put through a shredder and smothered acres of weeds with them. I bet my laurels are taller than yours (!)
    I have also found laurel to be an easy wood to work, with a white colour and grey veining, and that use has little to fear in respect of global warming.

  2. I want to encourage you that the young still have bonfires here in Tallahassee, Florida. It gets into the teens in the winter here and I absolutely love building a fire in my fireplace, the kettle on the patio where I sit in my chair at night with a blanket, hot chocolate, and look at the beautiful stars at night. My most favorite is the bonfire we build on our property when the 12 foot Christmas tree has breathed it lasts breath and ends it life on our bonfire, lighting up in a beautiful crackling fire. It is a great way for our beloved Christmas tree each year to give away its final beauty. Both of my children who are in their 20's still come for that bonfire. We invite others and roast marshmellows and make s'mores. Ahh....the simple things are truly the best....
    Karen Fulford Skagfield