It’s been a great week in central Scotland. Clear blue skies, no rain, and a hard frost at night to stop plants from thinking it is Spring and indulging in ridiculous early growth. Perfect conditions for burning off the dead grass in odd corners of the garden.
Grass fires are incredibly dangerous. With a strong wind behind them, they move faster than you can run, and when flame hits tussocks of dead grass, they more or less explode with a terrifying crackling. So I treat this exercise with extreme care.
The key is to start by burning short firebreaks to stop the flames from getting anywhere near young trees or other plants, and to plan the burning with massive built-in safety precautions. It’s also important to choose a day when the wind is from the right direction and when it is not too strong. Then you need a jute sack, or a cotton towel or some such to beat out the little flames that insist on travelling against the wind. The final, and most important, point is never, ever, to leave a grass fire without making sure it is completely out. A smouldering piece of moss can suddenly burst into flame when you are not looking, or have gone elsewhere.
The dry weather has allowed me to weed the herbaceous border. This is unheard of this early in the year! It’s only when you get down to this task that you realise that all winter the nettles and willowherb have been sneakily infiltrating when you thought everything was dead. Now the border is ready for a load or two of compost. Meanwhile, the sunshine is allowing a little trough of spring bulbs to show off: