Sunday, 25 June 2017

No more he loiters 'neath the hedge-row bough...

Hawthorn blossom

Late in March we planted a further 45 metres of mixed hedging to serve as a windbreak for the nursery, and as a screen for the new cattle shed. In the past,I've used a mix of fifty percent hawthorn, balanced with hornbeam, field maple, hazel ,dogwood and spindle,all subjects that grow well here, although hazel isn't wholly happy with our Weald clay. This time, however, we wanted to provide a source of winter food for the birds, so in addition to the hawthorn, spindle and maple I added guelder rose, common privet and holly. Privet does grow in a hedge elsewhere on the farm, and holly occasionally, so watch this space. I managed to place the holly on the drier areas, so we think it will be happy.

New hedge

As a family we didn't really find it necessary to grub out hedges in the past-the furthest we got in that way was to remove odd bits of scrub dotted about, relics of the post war mania for tree felling that dad inherited when he came here in the 1950s. In any event, I'm sure we have planted much more than we removed, and gapped up straggly ones.

Reading and observation have taught me that they are more than just boundaries and means for controlling livestock: in a formerly heavily wooded area, they act as a reserve for woodland plants, insects and animals, and as conduits between habitats.

This spring, I noticed fresh oak leaves in the bottom of a hedge that we planted in the early days of our Countryside Stewardship scheme: doubtless other neophytes will be found on close inspection.

established hedge