Sunday, 15 December 2013

SoE Training Day 3

Yesterday was the third South of England Hedgelaying Society's training day, this time at Guestling Thorne in East Sussex. A dry bright day; mild but with a chilling wind. The long shadows in the photo below indicate some nice early morning sunshine that did not last. The hedge was across the field from the one worked on for the John French Competition but was of a different character. Of indeterminate age, it comprised a mix of Hawthorne and Blackthorn with very little else except bramble and rose. Flailed repeatedly over many years at four foot six it had developed large stag-horns and rot had got into a lot of the stems; four or five years of top growth gave the hedge some height but there was nothing at all around the base.


As the hedge was unfenced and the sheep had eaten out all the vegetation up as high as they could reach, this is a good example of what happens when a hedge is not laid on a regular basis and is no longer stock proof, deteriorating rapidly and with no regeneration.

My student James and I had the cant shown above. It was the second to last one down the field and had fewer stems than those on the middle section but fortunately was not as heavy as those at the other end of the hedge. Lots of bramble and rose in the top which took quite a while to remove, but there was very little clearing out to do at the base other than the removal of dead and rotten wood. Except for the thinning down of a couple of large stag-horn stems with the chain saw we laid almost entirely with hand tools as most of the stems were between three and five inches in diameter. However, many were awkwardly shaped and partly rotten making for some challenging axe work.

Quite pleased with the end result, given what we started with. Stock-proof, but not enough material to properly cover the pleachers.

Nice stake line and good even width. The binders were not that great but we did a reasonable job given the materials we had.

Finally a general view of a few of the other trainers and students at work.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Moor Green Lakes

Yesterday's visit to Moor Green Lakes, the last laying session of the season, was to complete a section of hedge, part of which had been previously laid by the group (not sure exactly when).

A planted hedge of unknown age containing Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Dogwood and Field Maple, with little or no under-story thanks to the overshadowing trees, which had caused the hedge to grow somewhat lopsided out towards the footpath. 

Groups of large'ish Hawthorns and Field Maples were interspersed with sections of spindly Blackthorn - much of it dead - and Dogwood. As you can see the Hawthorns were very tall, having stretched up to the light, and had thin intertwined tops. The previously laid section of the hedge can be seen on the left of the photo below.

It was a pleasant day, not too cold and with little wind. A good turn out by the group ensured that we got the hedge finished in good time (to get to the pub) and the end result was very pleasing, attracting complimentary comments from members of the public using the foot path. Also, many thanks to members of the Moor Green Lakes Group that cleared and burnt the brash.