Richard Jefferies on hedges

The great 19th century nature writer Richard Jefferies has some nice quotes about rural hedgerows:

In Pageant of Summer he writes “By the hedge here stands a moss-grown willow, and its slender branches extend over the sward. Beyond it is an oak, just apart from the bushes; then the ground gently rises, and an ancient pollard ash, hollow and black inside, guards an open gateway like a low tower. The different tone of green shows that the hedge is there of nut-trees; but one great hawthorn spreads out in a semicircle, roofing the grass which is yet more verdant in the still pool (as it were) under it.”

While in Field and Hedgerow he writes of his daily fascination with the changes in the hedgerows: “The light is never the same on a landscape many minutes together, as all know who have tried, ever so crudely, to fix the fleeting expression of the earth with pencil. It is ever changing, and in the same way as you walk by the hedges day by day there is always some fresh circumstance of nature, the interest of which in a measure blots out the past.”

I’m also fond of his novel After London, in which he envisages London being overtaken by the wildwood after the disappearance of mankind. There’s always something peculiarly fascinating about imagining how nature would take back its domain if we were no longer here to cultivate and tame it into gardens, hedges, farms, villages and cities.

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