Saturday, 22 February 2014

Mud glorious mud!

Saturday saw the South of England Hedge Laying Society's annual competition take place on ground that can only be described as a quagmire. Although the weather on the day was wonderful, the effects of the wettest winter on record were still much in evidence.

The hedge was a maiden of about fifteen years, mostly Hawthorne with some large Field Maples, Spindle and probably a few other species scattered about. The cants were a the usual mix of the good, the bad and the down right difficult. The veterans section was not too bad, without much standing water but very muddy. My cant was as good, or as bad as the others, although a bit thin on the right owing to a number of stems that had died after reaching a reasonable size. Difficult to see any detail in the photo because of the small strip of poplars behind but it was mainly three to four inch Hawthorne with a few six to eight inch Field Maples and the odd straggly Spindle.

For once there seemed to be loads of time and all the veterans had the stems laid, staked and bound with plenty of time to fiddle about. 

 The photo below makes my cant look somewhat better than it actually was. It being a bit thin at the far end, and I had made a less than perfect job of pleaching one of the Field Maples, which together with a couple of stakes not as upright as they should have been meant lost marks. However I was generally happy with what I had done and you learn from your mistakes.

This next photo shows the stake line with Frank's cant beyond. He laid a great hedge and beat me into second place with Dave taking first.

Can't remember what the order was in the Seniors but in the Champions it was Gary, Tony and then Bob. Their section was on the corner - drier in some parts than others! Some nice work in there but the fence blocks the view.

And here we see Tony finishing off his masterpiece in what was a small pond.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Hedge number 3 at Avery Hill

We must be doing something right, as Greenwich University asked us to lay another hedge at their Avery Hill campus. The photo below shows the hedge in late autumn when I did an evaluation and measurement visit - before I get comments, it's the one on the left. It's a mixed hedge of Hawthorn and Field Maple with some Privet, Holly and Spindle but growing under mature Oaks has stunted growth in many areas. It runs for 200 meters along the footpath and main road entrance to the campus.

We (SHG - South-east London chapter) started the first traunch of 120 meters on Monday with a tricky ninety degree return from the car bay onto the footpath proper. 

We were extremely lucky with the weather getting two full days almost rain free. The grounds staff had cordoned off the full length of the footpath and, as the hedge was manageable with hand-tools only, we were able to crack on at a good pace. Here we have Ian at work and you can see that, with the hedge being single-planted and rather thin, there is little brash coming out and what there is was used to fill in gaps. One dead tree and a couple of out-of-line medium sized bushes were removed by chainsaw and one of these is in the foreground.

Further down the hedge Fred is working on a mixed Field Maple and Holly section and we were making such good progress that we had the whole 120 meters down by mid-afternoon on Monday.

We were back early on Tuesday morning, which after a short sharp shower turned into another sunny day. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos during the staking and binding process. This was in part because we were none too pleased with the materials supplied. We had no control over the supply of stakes and binders and were shocked by the lack of any quality control. Not only were a large proportion of the binders far too thick to be manageable but the stakes were uneven, crooked and sharpened at the wrong end! If you think I'm joking take a look at this example.

Notwithstanding the quality of the stakes and binders, we made a fist of finishing off the job and below are a few shots of the completed hedge. The first photo shows the start from the car bay end.

Sorry about the shadow in the next shot - I may take a few more when I go back tomorrow to put the SHG sign on the hedge.

Despite a two hour wait for the stakes and binders to be delivered, we finished off this first traunch in good time on Tuesday, and at 20 meters per man per day I think it was pretty good going. Well done Fred and Ian.

And this morning, just before the rain started.