Monthly Archives: May 2011

OMSCo’s Hedgerow Safari programme

This is a nice initiative, helping to teach children about the variety of flora and fauna that can be found in our hedgerows.

(OMSCo is the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative).

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Filed under Hedges and Biodiversity, Rural Britain

Hedges – a good practice guide

The English Hedgerow Trust has a useful Good Practice Guide on their website here. It has advice on best ways to trim a hedge, how to rejuvenate gappy hedges or hedges that have been damaged by clumsy flail cutting.

One particular bit of good advicefor those maintaining rural hedgerows is to mark some saplings with fluorescent tape and to allow these to grow into hedgerow trees. While many operators of mechanical cutting devices are careful to avoid mature trees, there is a dearth of younger trees being allowed to grow to maturity in our hedgerows and simple practices like this can help to remedy the situation.

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Filed under Hedgelaying, Hedges and Biodiversity

Rupert Brooke’s song of the hedge

I like this poem, but I do think the poetry police should be called regarding his use of the word “frore.” Apparently it means “frozen” in Old English, but seriously, are we expected to know that?

Song by Rupert Brooke, 1912

All suddenly the wind comes soft,
And Spring is here again;
And the hawthorn quickens with buds of green,
And my heart with buds of pain.

My heart all Winter lay so numb,
The earth so dead and frore,
That I never thought the Spring would come,
Or my heart wake any more.

But Winter’s broken and earth has woken,
And the small birds cry again;
And the hawthorn hedge puts forth its buds,
And my heart puts forth its pain.


Filed under Historical Hedges, Literary Hedges

Ray Davies on hedges

Ray Davies of the Kinks is probably the greatest London songwriter ever. I was going to use this quote from Autumn Almanac in the book but I’ve just cut a section and I can’t fit it in any more, so I’ll put it here instead.

From the dew-soaked hedge, creeps a crawly caterpillar

When the dawn begins to crack.

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Filed under Everyday Hedges, Literary Hedges

Why you shouldn’t cut a hedge in the wrong season

The hedgelaying season lasts from October to March – outside of these months there is a danger of disturbing nesting birds and trampling new plant growth, so the Wildlife & Countryside Act, farming schemes and EU regulations restrict the period in which hedges should be laid.

The same advice applies to cutting garden hedges if they may contain nesting birds. There’s a bit more detail on this in this article.

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Filed under Everyday Hedges, Hedgelaying, Hedges and Biodiversity

The enclosure of Penwith Moors

In the 18th and 19th centuries, a great deal of British land passed from common use to private control, during the Enclosures, in which land was fenced or hedged off. The hedges of this period helped to cement the modern system of land ownership (and wealth inequality).

But the age of enclosures isn’t over . Many ongoing conflicts revolve around the use and abuse of common land. Village greens and common land have often been subject to compulsory purchase or enclosure, whether for private use, road-building, airports or military use, while there has been a long political battle to preserve our rights of way and public footpaths in the countryside.

At Penwith Moors inCornwall, there is a different kind of enclosure underway. Most of the moors have traditionally been common land, a wide open wilderness area of heath, coastal views and ancient monuments. Recently, as part of the Natural England HEATH project, plans were announced to “manage the moors.” In practise, these plans involve introducing grazing cattle to a huge proportion of the moors, which means building metal grids, numerous gates and erecting miles of ugly barbed wire fencing that significantly restricts the public’s “right to roam” on the land. Landowners are benefiting from generous grants of taxpayers’ money for the erection of these barriers and, later, for grazing cattle, and the net result is that open land is being turned into enclosed spaces with visitors and local ramblers shepherded through gates and paths.

Pictures taken in 2009 on Carnyorth Common (St Just) with the rocky outcrop of Carn Kenidjack beyond. This fencing was installed under the Natural England HEATH Project. (Courtesy of “Save Penwith Moors”)

Those who are managing and (supposedly) consulting on this project seem to see it as a perfectly reasonable way to help the local environment – and in some of the details (such as helping to protect parts of the heathland for birds) there may be a logic to the scheme. But many people simply see that their access is being restricted without any proper local consultation having taken place. When I spoke to Ian McNeil Cooke who is the co-ordinator of Save Penwith Moors, he made the direct connection with the enclosures of the past, pointing out that landowners are being given preferential treatment over the common people who have were previously able to freely use the land.

For more information visit


Filed under Enclosures

Jerome K. Jerome on the rural scene

One golden morning of a sunny day, I leant against the low stone wall that guarded a little village church, and I smoked, and drank in deep, calm gladness from the sweet, restful scene – the grey old church with its clustering ivy and its quaint carved wooden porch, the white lane winding down the hill between tall rows of elms, the thatched-roof cottages peeping above their trim-kept hedges, the silver river in the hollow, the wooded hills beyond!

Jerome K. Jerome

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Filed under Rural Britain