Yesterday, as I was walking through one of our big box stores, I began to notice the garden chimineas again. Not because we need one – heading into summer and all – but because they were now heavily reduced – being that we’re heading into summer and all. I guess with all the fire regulations they start forcing on us at this time of the year it doesn’t seem like a wise time to be buying one.
But, this is the very reason that a garden chiminea is a perfect buy. While uncontained fires will become illegal very soon, contained fires – especially those kept within a chimenea – are permitted throughout the year and only discouraged in times of severe high risk.
Plus, the best time to start stoking up a fire and enjoying your chiminea is right now, in the in-between seasons of spring and autumn. The nights are still cool enough to enjoy sitting ’round a fire but not too hot that it becomes pointless or too cold that you find yourself actually sitting on the embers in order to keep warm.
So, how do you go about finding the perfect chiminea for your garden?
Firstly, chimeneas come in different shapes and sizes and one-size definitely doesn’t fit all. Some gardeners opt to build their own hardcast versions that sit on their verandahs and can’t be moved. Others prefer the more mobile types that can be carted between locations without too much effort and there are others who buy garden chimineas that can be moved but never are.
The next reason why some would buy a garden chiminea is for its cooking ability. Ancient Aztecs, Myans and Incas used these vessels as cooking implements long before we thought about placing one in the garden and sitting around it for warmth. While most chimineas are built from either clay or cast iron they both offer very different heat. Some purists swear by the clay versions but the cast iron has the ability to keep its heat longer and to get much hotter than its predecessor allowing meals to be cooked quicker.
Then there’s the design to consider. Do you sit it up on its legs or let it sit on the ground without any support? Will it be the traditional shape garden chiminea or one of the new contemporary models that seem to be taking off? When you consider the design it also pays to think through how you plan to use it.
If you’re considering keeping it on your decked patio then an unsupported clay chiminea is probably going to leave some ghastly marks on your floorboards. But, it you’ve created a firepit in your yard and are looking for a chiminea to dwell within it, then a copper chiminea with filigree wrought iron work is probably a waste.
Finally, the last point to consider when choosing a garden chiminea is where all that smoke will go. Once the fire inside gets hot enough the chimenea will stop smoking but from the time you start it until then you will have some problems diffusing its output. Fortunately, it has a chimney that will guide the smoke in a certain direction but even then if it were contained undercover this could get very messy.
If you plan to keep it undercover then adding a flange with its own chimney to expel the smoke through the roof is probably the best option.
Finding a chiminea that suits your garden isn’t a hard task but considering how you will use it may take a few more thought processes.