All photographs © Nina Nixon
Living by the sea there is not an abundance of woods. Nor are there many leafy lanes lined with beautiful trees or forests filled with wonderful earthy wafts.
But I do love trees.
So when we moved here back in the Summer of 2002 from a little strip of a concrete courtyard, the few feet of garden we are now lucky to own seemed like a whole field of hopeful. But the previous owner did not like trees (neighbours said she would often grumble) so all that may of once grown had long been removed, chopped down and roots extracted. Stumps were the only evidence that the garden had once flourished - and a dead old apple tree kept for decorative purposes...to let a rather rambling honeysuckle twist her vines around.
Out came the hebes the fuchsias and the rotten old apple tree and in went silver birches, Rowan, willow, pear, cherry and a few more apples.
Now I'm not trying to convince you we have an orchard full of fruit, but it's pretty darn good around here come the Autumn.
And with the Autumn come the winds and with the winds fall the branches...that have long seen better days. And with those branches I make kindling bundles that are long past their best. They do not take as long to dry out as a regular lump of wood for burning - no seasoning needed.
The silver birch is the best for shedding her unwanted dead and dried out branches, second is the willow. And if the wind doesn't have her way then come nesting season the magpies do a pretty good job at tugging and dropping those branches that will no long bear budding leaves.
There is an snippet from Susan Hill's book 'The Magic Apple Tree' that has always struck a cord with me. She talks about 'searching the deep ditches for the right sort of kindling'.
It is a thickly tree-lined, heavily overgrown lane that runs from Moon Cottage away from the village, down towards Sheep Hill and the Fen; old, fallen branches are propped up between the living ones and the ditches are full of dead wood.
I love the idea of going out into the country lanes in search of 'old, dead wood' to dry out for kindling on a daily basis. The only real chance I have of living out my deep rooted country ways is when I go home to Hampshire for the weekend. But all the while we live here I will have to make do with my own back garden, abundant and beautiful with the trees I have nurtured for the past eleven and a half years.
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