04 January 2017


One full Shaw Island woodshed,
wrapped with overflow under her ample eaves.
Builders, Ed Hopkins and Buzz Melville.
c. 1980
"The world is much the poorer for the lost technologies of earlier times, where it was common knowledge, for example, exactly which wood was good for what.
      I came across this translation of a Latin poem on the properties of firewood. It appeared as a letter to The Times on 1 March, 1929."
"Beechwood fires are bright and clear, if the logs are kept a year.
Chestnut's only good, they say, if for long its laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree, death within your house shall be.
But Ash new or Ash old is fit for a queen with a crown of gold.
Birch and Fir logs burn too fast; blaze up bright and do not last.
It is by the Irish said, Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould; e'en the very flames are cold.
But Ash green or Ash brown is fit for a queen with a golden crown.
Poplar gives a bitter smoke, fills your eyes and makes you choke.
Apple wood will scent your room with an incense-like perfume,
Oaken logs, if dry and old, keep away the winter's cold.
But Ash wet or Ash dry a king shall warm his slippers by."

Hugh Johnson on Gardening; The Best of Tradescant's Diary. Johnson, Hugh.
The Royal Horticulture Society. London. 1993.