Monday, 27 January 2014

Examples of regrowth

Recently I came across a couple of examples of regrowth that are worth sharing. These were in a short length of wide-spaced Hawthorne hedge, laid approximately four years ago, which has the look of a practice piece, or a job that was not completed. Whilst the stems had been pleached there was no evidence of stakes or binders and there was no 'build' to speak of. So, not much of a hedge but it does illustrate nicely a couple of issues around regrowth.

The regrowth has not been trimmed and has reached between six and eight feet in height. There is little competitive vegetation at the base of the hedge, aside from some low-level bramble, and the new stems are thin, straight and only lightly branched.

The first photo shows strong regrowth from the stool, in fact there are a surprising number of new stems. There are two old pleachers, so it was multi-stemmed when laid, and may well have been previously coppiced.

The second photo shows a stool with a single pleacher. In this case the regrowth from the stool is not as strong but there are several strong new stems growing from the pleacher.

I believe that this second photo shows a pleacher that has not been thinned down sufficiently when laid and therefore a greater proportion of the sap is feeding the pleacher rather than the stool. This has caused vigorous growth in the pleacher with many new sturdy upright stems. In time the pleacher will rise further off the ground and if it were some time before it was laid again it would present a problem for the hedgelayer trying to make a stock-proof hedge. 

We have all come across these large old pleachers, still alive and with multiple upright stems, and are none too happy if we get a difficult one in a competition cant. I think this example nicely illustrates how these occur and why we should endeavour to get the 'hinge' to the optimum thickness to keep the pleached stem alive, whilst promoting strong regrowth from the stool.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

SoE Improvers Day

A bit late uploading this as my modem gave up the ghost on Sunday and have only just got a new one fitted - good news is that it's faster than the old one.

With the need to return my veterans trophy before the SoE competition next month I took the long road to Donnington to lay a bit of spare hedge at the Improver's Day competition on Saturday.

Thankfully the day was dry, with bright sunshine throughout. On the drive down I passed through some bad floods around Arundel, and on site the fields were sodden and the ditches full. The hedge being laid was a continuation of the that used for one of last year's Training days and a maiden of some 12 years or so, mostly Hawthorn with just a few small Field Maple and Dogwood scattered throughout. Oddly the Field Maples had not grown well in this hedge, perhaps because of the soil type or the ratherwet conditions of this low-lying site.


My cant, as shown in the foreground below, had rather a lot of Dog Rose and bramble - I know always complaining - but was made up mostly of nicely grown 2 to 3 inch diameter Hawthorn reasonably evenly spaced. So, I laid with hand tools, except for two larger stems right at the end which were difficult to get at through my neighbour's laid-off stems.

End result looked OK, if a little thin at ground level. I was pleased with the pleaching and build (except the exposed pleachers) and with the general appearance. Although a double planted hedge the rows were very close together making staking more difficult than it should have been on a hedge of this age and stem dimensions.