These hedges are from the 18th-century elliptical walled garden at Netherbyres in East Lothian. The garden is over half a hectare and includes Victorian glasshouses, as well as a wide range of fruit and vegetables, flowers, herbs, climbers, and other plantings.
It’s not open to the public, as the house has become a home for retired gardeners.
Thanks to Betsy for the pictures.
The Daily Mail are clearly fond of their giant hedge stories.
Apparently this one is the biggest yew hedge in Britain (though not the tallest*, as that’s the Cirencester one I already posted about.)
I do like the fact that its location is a “closely guarded secret”. I think I might know where it is, but I suppose it would be inappropriate to speculate.
(For any pedants offended my tabloid-style headline, I should concede that yew clippings don”t “cure cancer”, they are just used in the manufacture of drugs that help to fight cancer.)
*Edit – I originally described this as the tallest hedge in Britain, which is wrong, because the Meikleour hedge (which is beech) is much higher.
“At least half the hedgerows of Britain pre-date the enclosure movement and perhaps as many as a fifth date back to Anglo-Saxon times. Anyway, the reason for saving them isn’t because they have been there for ever and ever, but because they clearly and unequivocally enhance the landscape. They are a central part of what makes England England. Without them it would just be Indiana with steeples.”
Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island
Hedges don’t often make it onto the news, but while I was writing the first draft of my book, the scandal over MP’s expenses was neatly demonstrating the decadence of the British political elite – hilariously, one of the disputed claims featured was that of Sir Michael Spicer who claimed for having the hedge around his helipad trimmed.
He later said this was a “family joke”, though I’m not sure why he expected the family to be chuckling over his Commons expense claims. Just for the record, he also claimed the costs of “hanging a chandelier” at his home.
Hedges are an important habitat for birds. Most birds that nest in trees adapt to hedges if there is sufficient cover. Many original woodland species now rely on hedges for their habitat. Blackbirds, chaffinches, linnets, whitethroats and yellowhammers aren’t found in non-woodland areas without hedges. And many more species, including finches, thrushes, skylarks and jays can be found either nesting or feeding in hedges.
At my mother’s house recently I spent ages trying to take a decent picture of the horde of birds that flit in and out of her hedges. But they tended to see me coming and all disappear, so this is the only one I got where you can even see a bird, and because of the angle you can’t really see it’s a hedge.
I won’t be applying for a job as a wildlife photographer any time soon. I don’t have the patience.