Do not destroy!

We seized the opportunity recently, on a rare day when the wind wasn’t howling up from the sea, to do this:

It’s got to be done judiciously, otherwise every house uphill from me – and there are some – gets it in the neck. Of course, just because you start building a bonfire when the weather is calm, you should never assume it will stay calm. Cough, gasp, wheeze.

But I have a limited space in which I can have fires; the only possible spot is at the top of the meadow and if I wait too long bulbs start popping through dangerously close to the bonfire spot (I have been known to protect clumps by covering them with upturned galvanised buckets before now).

I like bonfires. Despite the smell which clings to everything and permeates the entire house; despite the fact the wind inevitably suddenly decides to whirl the smoke round in circles and sneak it up on you before you realise; despite the fact that it’s a heck of a lot of work – I like them.  Guess I’m just an arsonist at heart, or maybe it’s the potatoes: there have to be baked potatoes, you see. And maybe it’s the clearance of all the old crap – rose prunings, privet trimmings, great sections of Old Man’s Beard – which has been taking the bonfire heap almost up to wall height.

But there are some things that I have insisted on keeping in the general clear out. I do love my seed heads, and they look spectacular in snow or frost. But just in case enthusiasm got the better of me I took some shots earlier of the ones I wanted to keep. Some have even survived the recent stormy weather, like the agapanthus:

I suppose they’re robust enough to cope. They are looking somewhat tattier than this now, of course, but they made it through the snow last year. And – evidently – so did the clump, even though it did a very good impression of being completely dead.

A few things have survived on the edges of the meadow, and I intend to keep them. Or let them stay until they decide they don’t want to, and dry out sufficiently to be blown away. The fleabane is one, tucked under an apple tree.

and close by are some remaining aquilegias, though I’m sure both of these will soon disappear. There were some clover heads too, but those did end up on the bonfire with some lawn clippings. Earlier, the ladybirds had loved them; I never knew that about ladybirds, but every time I looked at the dead clover heads, there was at least one ladybird crawling on them.

And of course there were lots of spiders’ webs everywhere – and those all seem to have been blown away. Or maybe it got too cold? (It’s ridiculously mild again now, but scheduled to get more appropriately seasonal soon.) Spiders’ webs are, for me, one of those things that you appreciate a lot – especially backlit, with raindrops or dew on – but hardly think about once they’ve disappeared. Er – disappeared from everywhere outside, that is.

And then of course there are the ubiquitous clematis heads, again suddenly stripped in the last couple of days. Don’t know how they’d held out until now, mind you, but they had.

Except for the Old Man’s Beard, which was stripped a while ago. Expect that means I can look forward to a whole lot more appearing everywhere next year. Sigh.

I have, of course, been saving seed like mad, and the kitchen is full of little dishes containing seeds. There’s only one problem – can’t remember what some of them are. Garlic chives, I think, but I guess we’ll see. And I couldn’t resist these:

Anyone ever grown a paeony from seed?

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9 thoughts on “Do not destroy!

  1. Christina

    Hi Kate, although I do burn some things most either gets shredded for mulch or for the compost heap. You anticipated my post about headheads which I threatened this morning on my Wordless Wednesday post. No, never grown paeony from seed – good luck! Christina

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Sorry! I’m not wildly optimistic about the paeonies – I’m not much good at germinating seeds, tend to lose patience / run out of space – but you’ve got to experiment!

      Reply
  2. islandthreads

    all that lovely wood ash for the garden and real baked tatties yum, yum 🙂
    some nice seedheads, our snow didn’t last it’s gone now, so hopefully not the start of something, Frances

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      The lovely wood ash seems to have mostly blown away, though I did manage to get a couple of bucketloads into the compost bins – but the baked tat ties were great. There’s always a daft hunt to find them which involves demolishing the heap a bit – ‘I put them in there, by that stick’, ‘what stick?’ – but boy are they worth it!

      Glad your snow didn’t hang about. It’s on our hills, but not lower – yet…

      Reply
  3. Dobby

    It certainly isn’t mild on this side of the bay. In fact it is icy cold in the wind. Perhaps I should move back!!
    Do please supply regular pictures of the paeonies progress. See, I have every faith in you:-)

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s pretty wild this side too – the noise this early morning was ridiculous. Still, at least this isn’t the Scottish central belt, which sounds as though it’s getting it in the neck later today…

      Am not expecting anything of the paeonies. I know me. Expect lots of photos of pots with nothing happening!

      Reply
  4. wellywoman

    Hi Kate,

    Loving the seedhead photos. Mine just look soggy and mouldy after lots of rain. My dad was such a bonfire fan. My mum hated it because of the smell. So my dad would disappear, generally on a Saturday afternoon. You’d know what he was up to when you saw the plumes of smoke rising from behind the garage. He even had a special jacket he wore, his bonfire jacket, it stunk. Perhaps we should have called it his smoking jacket. I don’t have the space for a bonfire and compost most of my material and send the rest off to the council green waste centre. The jacket spuds sound good.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s so windy here now (though we’re getting off lightly compared to some) that all my seed heads are gone now – or soggy like yours.

      I’m with your dad – and I had a special thick cotton checked overshirt, one of those that farmers wear, for bonfires. It seems to have vanished… can’t understand it. I should be able too track it down by the smell!

      Reply
  5. welshhillsagain

    I love bonfires too. It’s one of the great pleasures of living out here that we can have them without worrying about other people’s lives and washing! Love your seedheads. I have seeds but need to sow them.

    Reply

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