The last Sunday in January saw our second, successful hedge laying day. Garden Club leader Steve Granger, who set up the activity and oversaw much of the preparation undertaken by our Garden Club, explains the process:
In the run-up to the day itself, Garden Club carried out some essential preparation work over several Friday morning sessions. We had left the hedge to grow long deliberately, but in order to be ready for laying, we had to remove any lateral branches that would stop the stems of the hedge being bent over. We also got rid of the thatch of cross branches at the top of the hedge (without shortening the main stems) and trimmed the wild rose stems down to ground level.
Hedge laying is a traditional method of creating stock proof boundaries. Although the task of cutting the hedge back, looks brutal at the time, the overgrown hedge is reinvigorated by this work. The section of hedge we laid in January 2016 shows this and is already growing well.
With the expert guidance of Derek, David and Glynn of the CMS (Countryside Management Service), volunteers learnt the skill of hedge laying. Volunteers laid over 15 metres of hedge, learning all the techniques involved. From how to cut the trunks of the hedge to bend it, without killing it! How to tidy the cut edges to promote the health of the plant in the future and finally how to apply the ‘bindings’ along the top of the new hedge to finish it. We ran out of the bindings that CMS had provided, but we were able to prune stems from the willow arch and use them as well.
The volunteers left us some very positive comments about the day in our comments book such as, ‘A lovely morning hedge laying – nice inclusive group. Feel so much better for getting the air in my lungs and learning a new skill’ and ‘Such an enjoyable morning, the hedge laying was really well taught and I feel I learnt lots of new skills. Soup + cake 10/10!!’
Everyone much appreciated the hot lunch provided by Liz, and the colour of the beetroot soup provoked conversation!
Now the hedges on both sides of the willow arch have been lowered, we will aim to keep them lower to increase light and visibility into the garden. We will let the hedge thicken up though to encourage birds to nest in it.