A month in the life of a Hedge!


Hedges are invaluable now as shelter against the winds when out walking or cycling. They also now provide similar sheter for animals, birds and insects, as well as some food.


Collect the berries and stratify them, sow in the second Spring. To stratify, mix the berries with three times their volume of wet sand and store in unglazed pots in the garden. ( ansd if I knew waht it meant I might be able to do it !


Cut hedges late in January or February. A hedge should be at least1.8 m high or 6 ft; it needs growth at the bottom to give cover for wildlife. An A shape is best.

The circular saw is better than the flail on heavy growth, as it is good for coppicing where you cut everything to 75 mm above ground. Coppicing on a 6-10 year rotation is effective and economic, leaving other hedges to produce flowers and fruit.

The flail should be used only where there is 2 or 3 years soft growth. If you use it on heavy woody growth you will damage the hedge and leace it open to decay through the flayed, raggedly cut branches.


A good time of year to lay a hedge, laying the branches horizontal as opposed to vertical at 50mm from the ground. Hedges are usually laid to the left. You cut with your right hand, supporting the stem with your left. You cut ¾ way through the stem and about 50mm from the ground. Then you lay or bend the branch over in an uphill direction as sap will not travel downwards. Do work on the side which animals cannot reach to protect new growth. Hedges with a lot of elderberry and sycamore are not so suitable, you need to cut them to the butt before starting. You need straight stems close together. If the branch is very thick, use a bowsaw to cut upward ¾ way through the stem. Then make a notch where you cut using a hatchet and then you can bend it over, a second person can support the stem as you twist it down and along the hedge line.

You only need to leave a thin strip of wood and bark, this is enough for the sap to pass through and make the now horizontal branch sprout, creating a new hedge.

Planting a hedge with Spindle makes a great nesting place and is the food plant of the brimstone butterfly and moths. Robins, thrushes, blackcaps, redwings and finches love its bright pink fruits.


Dandelions are still flowering on the hedge banks. The plant produces new leaves at the top of its rosette, then the taproot contracts to pull the rosette down. This keeps the new leaves spread at ground level, killing any competitive plants. The Roman called this plant Dens leonis - or lions tooth.. In Greek it is called Taraxacum officinalis and was used pharmaceutically as a diuretic. You harvest the roots between September and February to make beer or wine.

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