I have always loved hedges, firstly because I find them beautiful, but also because they are of huge importance to wildlife.
- They act as a corridor in otherwise barren environments.
- Bats use them for navigation
- They are a source of food providing flowers for pollinators, and nuts and berries and for birds and small mammals.
- They are a home to a large variety of animals, from invertebrates to nesting birds and dormice.
- They are a place of refuge.
I understand the need for modern agricultural equipment, and I realise that I can’t turn back the clock, but I am always filled with sadness when I see a hedge trimmer trundling along the road.
Some organisations still manage their hedges by traditional methods. This winter my local wildlife group employed a veteran hedger to work on one of their reserves and teach members the basics of hedge laying. I went along with my husband, and the following week we found ourselves embarking on a course of six Saturday morning classes with The Wrington and Burrington Hedging Society. It was hard work, and we soon became battle scarred by tussles with dog roses and blackthorn, but we loved every minute of it.
On Wednesday March 12th we entered the beginners class of the Society’s 182nd Hedging Competition. We didn’t win any prizes, but we were very happy to have earned our ‘cutting money’ for completing our hedge in ‘a workmanlike manner’. We will be back next year.