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Country notebook

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 11, 2012

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In any list of popular woods for burning few mention the blackthorn or the hawthorn. Maybe because, when kept properly under control, as hedges, neither grows sufficiently to make decent firewood. But where they have been allowed to get bigger, the wood from both these plants is fabulous for burning.

In my little orchard the top hedge is wildly over-grown and bringing it back into line, before filling the gaps with appropriate new plantings, has been a slow process. There are, however, benefits from having access to a line of straggly, ivy-covered blackthorn bushes which, in most cases, are now more like small trees. Many are dead but remain held up by the rampant ivy. Once cut down, however, the main trunks – at around eight to ten inches across – make perfect logs for splitting when cut into eight inch lengths; ideal for the woodstove. The smaller branches can be cut into perfect faggots for kindling.

They have a resinous scent and split beautifully under the axe. Stacked for a few months to properly dry they burn hot and fierce. Mixed with a bit of fruit wood from the apple and plum trees which I have thinned out and heavily pruned, Christmas warmth is pretty much guaranteed.

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