Sunday, 25 January 2015

Avery Hill hedge number four - the big one

The South London chapter of SHG have in recent years worked on three hedges at the Avery Hill campus of The University of Greenwich but none of the size and complexity of this one. Running almost uninterrupted for 170 meters down the side of the football pitches and adjacent to one of the main access roads on the campus, it is a planted, amenity-style hedge but with very little Hawthorn and dominated by substantial Field Maples. 

The other species in the hedge are Hazel, Spindle, Dog Rose, Holly, Privet and Guelder Rose, plus a few self-seeded Oak and Sycamore.

As well as two large gaps that had been deliberately left in the planting - one of which will be staked-through for later planting up - there were areas of severely reduced growth due to the overshadowing of the large maples.Also, the Spindle and Guelder Rose had not done well on the heavy soil and block-planting meant other areas of poor growth.

The object of the exercise was to bring, what was fast turning into a line of trees, under control and produce a thick wildlife-friendly hedge. Regular SHG(SL) member Fred being temporarily out of action, Ian, Tony and myself set about this last Monday with the hope - on my part - of completing the job within the week. I soon realised that I may have underestimated the task. There was a considerable amount of wood to be removed and whilst the remaining maples and Hazel went down well the Holly and especially the Privet took an age to work through. 

However, the weather was kind, with only some light drizzle on Wednesday and with ten man-days worked by the end of Thursday we had 100 meters laid, staked and bound. Friday was a day of rest and boy did I need it - although I did have to go to Crossness to take some willows out of the reed beds there.

Must also mention here the excellent stakes and binders supplied by Paul Mathews. These were a mix of red Birch and Hazel and very consistent in size throughout, enhancing the look of the finished hedge.

So, we're back on Monday to finish off the job, hopefully by the end of Tuesday and I'll update the blog after that.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Skinny hedge made good

Out with SHG on Saturday working on 50 odd meters of hedge along a footpath near Beare Green. Situated at the bottom of a sloping field and under the shade of some large Oaks on the other side of the path in a neglected hazel coppice with standards. A sleet shower mid-morning brought a winter feel to the day.

The hedge had been planted and was made up of Hawthorn and Hazel with some Field Maple, willow sp. and Blackthorn. Growth had been compromised by the amount of shade and perhaps the damp cold soil conditions, so that the stems of Hawthorn and Hazel were tall, stretching for the light, but the Hawthorn lacked side growth. Other than the willow - which had not been planted - the other species had hardly grown at all, stunted by unsuitable soil conditions and the nearby Oaks.

Left the camera in the car so didn't take any 'before' shots but here are some of the finished job.

A sweep round the corner to soften the start. The hedge being rather thin, the challenge was to get some body into it, and to aid this we set the height somewhat lower than the usual 4 feet. With the exception of competition work there is no fixed height for binders in the South of England style and these should be set to reflect the amount of material in the hedge, its location and purpose.

The stakeline went OK for once..

This is not the full length of the hedge but gives a view along about two thirds.

Monday, 12 January 2015

SEHLS at Ticehurst

Out with SEHLS near Ticehurst on Saturday. Another wet day, although it did brighten up in the afternoon - I don't mind working in the rain but do dislike having wet gloves.

This was an interesting job, as the hedge was around part of a smallholding, and whilst in parts it was a planted two-row hedge of mostly Hawthorne with a few stems of Beach, Spindle and Field Maple, other sections were the remains of an old and overgrown garden hedge full of exotic species.

I was working on one of the more straightforward sections and you can see that the hedge was about eight feet high and had been cut several times at about five foot. A bit tangled and knotted but generally light and easy to lay with hand tools. The only minor problem was that we were laying left handed.

Getting it down now and trying to cover the pleachers with what little material there is. Trimmed off the lower branches of the Oak standard but this had suffered some damage in the past at about five foot putting a kink in the trunk and making it a little uneven. Still raining, and getting muddy now.

Hedge laid, weather clearing up and just a bit of tidying up to do. 

 This shot shows most of the main run of hedge but there were three other sections, all different in character which unfortunately I didn't photograph.