Category Archives: Notable Hedges

A hedged island

I’m just reluctantly cutting a few images from my book as it has a few too many. This is one I’m fond of, but can’t find a space – an island in a lake with a hedge around it, which seems to me nicely redolent of the way hedges are used to enclose/exclude space. My editor doesn’t want pictures that are only there because I think they are vaguely symbolic though, which is fair enough.

Can’t remember off the top of my head where it is as my mum sent me this one, but I think it is a country house in East Lothian…

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The Meikleour Hedge

For anyone who wants a barrier between themselves and their neighbours, the ultimate aspirational hedge must the one at Meikleour in Scotland. Running alongside the A93 between Perth and Blairgowrie, this is an extraordinary solid wall of beech trees. The hedge, for a long time officially the highest in the world*, is over 100 feet high at its tallest point and a third of a mile long.

It was planted in 1745 by Robert Murray Nairne. This was the year of the Jacobite Rising, and Nairne and many of the men who worked with him and helped to plant the hedge went on to fight for the Jacobites in the Battle of Culloden in the following year.

The battle and its aftermath were grim for the Jacobites, who were mostly Highland Scots supporting the House of Stuart’s claim to the throne. Alongside the French they were fighting against English and Scottish troops under the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II (the Hanover king).

The duke became known as “Butcher” Cumberland – he was the one who gave the orders to take “no quarter.” Hundreds of wounded soldiers were shot lying on the ground, while others were taken prisoner, then either burnt alive in pits of fire or shot in cold blood.

So one can hardly begin to fathom the deep sorrow of Nairne’s wife, Jean Mercer of Meikleour. She let the newly planted beech hedge grow up to heaven in memoriam of her lost husband and friends. And to this day it has remained there as a monument to her grief.

*Rather gallingly, the tallest hedge in Britain is now the double row of Leylandii at the National Pinetum in Bedgbury, Kent, which at the time of writing is 130 feet tall. But I’m tempted to say that since that is Leylandii it doesn’t really count.


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Topiary and Doctor Who

I like topiary. I also like Doctor Who.

It’s rare for these two interests to overlap in any way, so I was very taken by the garden design in this week’s episode “The Girl Who Waited”, which Amy greeted with the line “Freaky hedges…”

It struck me as being like a futuristic version of the fabulous Levens Hall topiaries. Though I suppose there is also some resemblance to the lovely topiaries in Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland.

For some reason I can’t get an image to load here, but you can see it at this link:

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Interesting hedge pictures wanted…

I’m just in the final stages of getting Hedge Britannia ready for publication.

I spent a lot of time in the last couple of years taking pictures of interesting hedges, topiary, weird hedgelike objects, hedge mazes, hedgelaying, hedges made of unusual species and so on. And now I am whittling down the results to choose the photos that will go in the book.

But I could still do with a few more, especially of eccentric topiaries, rural hedgerows, leylandii monstrosities and unusual hedges in general – so if anyone has an interesting hedge (or a nice picture of someone else’s hedge) and wouldn’t mind me sending me a photo to use in the book, you can contact me at – all contributions gratefully accepted and will of course be properly credited.


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Phallic hedge topiary


Funny story here about a rather rude hedge.

The bizarre thing is that the police actually forced him to censor/clip it under threat of a fine for a “public order offence.”

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Secret Hedge Cures Cancer

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.)–giant-hedge-yields-600-fund.html

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.

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Britain’s Tallest Yew Hedge

The tallest yew hedge in Britain is apparecntly the 40ft one on the Bathurst Estate in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. (Obviously there are hedges of leylandii and beech, amongst other species, that are a good deal higher).

There’s a good picture of it in this article.–40ft-high.html

These are screengrabs of the view from the outside:

The hedge mainly seems designed to separate the Batshurst estate (home to Lord Apsley) from the town centre – you can see on the map below that the estate cuts right into the town (the hedge is under the word “Museum”).

Of course leylandii hedges of these dimensions often cause bitter arguments between neighbours, but I suspect the town council won’t be invoking the high hedges legislation and asking Lord Apsley to chop his yews down to size any time soon.

(Thanks to DrMr for pointing me towards this one.)

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