Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Avery Hill Hedge #2

Over two days we (Fred, Ian and myself) laid a second section of hedge on the Greenwich University campus at Avery Hill. This consisted of 110 meters of mixed planted hedge alongside a footpath.

 The hedge is north facing and approximately twelve years old. It had only been trimmed along the path side creating a rather dense appearance from that side. The principle species in the hedge are Field Maple, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Privet, Holly and Spindle. The Field Maple had grown extremely well and was in places over twelve feet tall and dominating the hedge.
The back of the hedge had been planted with Hazel and Blackthorn to a depth of about fifteen feet abutting the original field boundary that is now a line of mature trees, causing severe shading on the south side. In addition to laying the hedge we were asked to create a walk-way at the rear of the hedge to allow for litter-picking etc. We also removed some of the overhanging boughs from the mature trees to allow more light to reach the hedge.

The two photos below were taken the day after the work was completed and all the brash has now been collected into one pile at the far end of the hedge.  It shows the laid hedge and the additional natural light allowed in by the laying and thinning, giving the pathway a neat open appearance.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cobrans Farm 17th November 2012

The second session at Cobrans Farm was completed in dry weather but the ground was saturated and soon became very muddy indeed. Working with one trainee I laid ten yards of maiden hedge, producing a very satisfying result as these before and after shots show.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Technical laying

Some rather technical laying yesterday with the Surrey Hedgelaying Group. A difficult hedge at Tatsfield that was made up of widely spaced old Hawthorn stems with some more recent mixed species under-planting. A lot of back-laying was required and in some cases the stem was split both ways. Below is a rather poor quality photo of a root lay. The large stem has been dug around and then pleached from the far side so that only one root remained attached and then laid over on this. In the photo the pleached root runs downwards from the centre of the picture.
 Another problem was a large multi-branched Hawthorne that had been cut off at about three feet high some time in the past and rot had penetrated down the centre of the stem. it was not possible to lay this conventionally as it had two large buttresses on the side to be bent over with the rotten section in the middle. So we cut vertically down the stem, leaving two buttresses attached and as these led to a nice roots, we laid on these, removing the entire centre section of the stem. This gave us two stems both with vigorous top growth - centre right in the photo below.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Nationals

Competed in The National Hedgelaying Championships again this year. The competition was at Brocklesby near Grimsby last Saturday on what was a cold day with frequent showers of rain and sleet.

On first sight the hedge looked very manageable.

but on closer inspection, it proved to be a bit of a monster.
 It had been laid some time in the past and there were some heavy live pleachers and some large multiple stems.
 I thought I was going to run out of time as it was taking an age to get the upper branches untangled and the heavy stems laid - including a very large multiple-stem at the end that I had to partly back lay and double pleach in order to try and fill a gap (a bit of a split-back there as you can see).

I had managed to draw the cant on the end of the section that had an eight foot gap where a field gate had been in the past. My neighbour was able to drop his first pleachers into the gap  without laying off but this meant that part of my hedge had no brash coming in from his cant and was therefore rather thin at that end, despite the back lay and some dead material (OK'd with the steward).

The stake-line was reasonably straight but could have been better if the large stems had allowed the stakes to be positioned as I wanted.

 So, all-in-all I was pleased with a second place in the SoE Vets - and the regrowth prize for my 2011 hedge.

Cobrans Farm 13th October 2012

I should also include here a photo of a very nice section of ten year old maiden hedge that I laid with two trainees on Cobrans Farm, East Sussex as part of a SoE training day. Again it was a very wet day and the field was saturated. However, the hedge was a joy to lay and the end result very pleasing to the eye.

West Grinstead Ploughing Match 15th September 2012

A very warm day at the West Grinstead Ploughing Match. I was not sure what to do with this hedge as it was a rag-bag of Blackthorne, Hazel and Privet that over the years had slipped halfway down the bank into the ditch. it also had some nasty thin bits. The consensus was to lay it up the bank Midland fashion and this is what I did but I can't say I was happy with the result. You will see that my neighbour on the right laid his cant along the hedge line giving a neat appearance.

Mine looked OK from the 'face' side but didn't win any prizes!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

First session

The first session of the season was the Laughton & District ploughing match last Saturday. On a very hot day we laid 10 yards each with hand tools only in four hours. The hedge did not have a lot of height and was gappy in places and - whether it was the result of salt spray or the soil type - the stems were very brittle and the butts prone to splitting when taken off with an axe. I didn't get amongst the prizes but didn't disgrace myself either.

Friday, 6 April 2012


Whilst on a Breeding Bird Survey visit I checked out the hedge we did this winter for Greenwich University at Avery Hill. The layed hedge is coming into leaf nicely and the ground staff have planted up the whole hedge line, including the dead-hedged sections, with Hawthorn whips.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Last session

The last laying session of the season with the Surrey Hedgelaying Group was at Runfold where we finished off a section along a footpath next to the A31. A fine sunny day and a good turnout ensured the job was completed.

The hedge on the other side of the footpath had been laid some three years before and showed good regrowth.