It is a delight to see a newly laid hedge ready for the new growth to spring up from the ground. It is an unmistakable pattern in the landscape. But it is not just the beauty but the benefits it gives to the whole farming environment.
A maintained laid hedge is stock proof as one farmer said ‘what the sheep sees through they go through’ another trait of an animal prone to misadventure. The black thorn is the best for this, although it takes a little longer to establish it can be left longer between laying and can even be restored easily if neglected. The windbreak hedges provide is invaluable for stock and crops, it is worth having especially with the winter storms we have been experiencing. The laid hedge also creates shade and shelter for stock. The natural woodland corridor is extended through the farmland along the hedges; this is a habitat for flowers, insects, birds and other wildlife. Many of the insects being controls for aphids and other pests. The standard trees present in the hedges can be maintained to provide a sustainable source of firewood and timber.
The loss of hedgerows is a sorry tale but neglect has been almost as bad an enemy as hedgerow removal.
The convenience and economics of flail cutting has meant that many hedgerows have been given an annual cut and not allowed to grow up, thicken and develop. Frequent and heavy trimming result in hedgerows being reduced to an intermittent line of shrubs, bare at the bottom and the so-called birds nest on top. However if hedges are looked after properly, maintenance costs are not high. It is the restoration of neglected hedges and bringing them back into a proper cycle of maintenance that is more expensive.
Let’s start by asking ourselves what we can do about it?
In fact if we want more laid hedges we need more hedge layers. As small landowners even if we lay or renovate a small proportion of our hedges each year we are doing something to buck the trend or if we pay a local farm worker we are supporting our local economy and employment.
This Autumn the Rural Skills Trust is offering Hedgelaying courses on a local small farm in Newcastle Emlyn. Why not come along to learn with other local people with an accomplished teacher. Which will give you the confidence to tackle your own hedge.
The Rural Skills Trust has been set up to train people in the skills that can encourage and sustain a useful rural economy and livelihoods. We are promoting rural skills to build our community and tackle climate change. We are based in West Wales
Hedgelaying Course dates
Oct 6th-9th and Oct 13th-16th
Saturdays Oct 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th
We will also be running Coppice Practice courses in November; this is an introductory 3 day course on a Newcastle Emlyn smallholding.
Coppice Practice Course dates
November 3rd-5th and November 24th-26th
For more info please email or phone Jules Wagstaff Mob 07964530436