Interesting the things you stumble across on the internet. I’ve just been finding out about the Isle of Wight hedgelaying group via their nice website, which includes the explanation on this page of the local style of hedgelaying, which I’ve not come across before. Apparently it is rarely used these days, but still interesting to read about it.
Monthly Archives: February 2012
Chris Crowder, the head gardener at Levens Hall, was kind enough to end me these pictures of the beautiful topiary hedges at Otterington Hall in North Yorkshire. Designed in the arts and crafts style, they date back to to approximately 1900. Otterington is not generally open to the public but they do have very occasional open days when the gardens can be viewed. I wanted to use these in the colour section in the book, but unfortunately they are not quite a high enough resolution, so instead I thought I would put them up here.
This is another picture that was cut from the book for space reasons, a nice pair of stilt hedges at Hatfield. Stilt hedges (lines of adjacent trees cut so that it looks like a hedge on trunks) have been a popular formal garden element over the years – there’s another nice example at Hidcote Manor Garden but that one is in the book so I won’t put it up here just now.
Anne Wareham, author of The Bad Tempered Gardener, has rightly taken me to task for not including her gorgeous hedges at Veddw House Garden in my book. I haven’t made it out to Monmouthshire in the last year or so, and thus haven’t been able to see it in person yet, but it is definitely a garden I would love to visit when I get the chance.
On the website there are some great pictures of the hedges, including some lovely winter views.
In my defence, Britain has so many extraordinary gardens, it would take a lifetime to fit them all in…
Ferns are one of those strange types of plants, like mosses, that are truly ancient and undoubtedly fascinating in their own way, but often overlooked in favour of more glamorous cousins. When I come across a patch of ferns in the woods, I tend to think of them as dinosaur food because I know they go way back in the fossil records, unlike some of the more recent plant groups.
Anyhow, my knowledge of them is pretty limited, but I’m intrigued by this book, Fern Fever, due out today, about the Victorian craze for ferns. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks rather beautifully designed, and appears to be informative about the plants themselves as well as the collectors and gardeners who became obsessed with them.
There is a good article in the Guardian (here) about research done by Northampton University’s Landscape and Biodiversity Research Group showing that bees use hedgerows to navigate around the countryside.
Of course we already know how crucial bees are for pollinating crops in general, and how disastrous it will be if our bee populations continue to fall. It may provide a lot of low-wage employment if we have to hand-polliinate our future crops, but large parts of our food chain are at risk if we lose the pollinating insects. It is also well known that hedges provide a good environment for insects, bees, and mammals and birds (who are often drawn there by the aforementioned flying and crawling animals as well as by the ground cover).
But it is fascinating to have proof that bees also use hedges as navigation routes. This is significant because it has also been shown that flowering plants close to hedges are more succesful at reproducing (especially those near to a meeting point of hedgerows). It’s yet more proof that the role of hedges in our landscape goes way beyond their heritage and aesthetic importance.