Laying a hedge

I’ve just finished laying a hedge in the garden of Daisy Cottage, Tarbert. I think it may have been around 30 years old. Over the years it had received some pruning but in a haphazard way, largely to keep it away from an aerial electricity cable. I tried using my billhook but space was tight and it was difficult to get enough force behind it, plus hawthorn is a very hard, tough wood. So I resorted to my chainsaw.
The trick in pleaching (the technical name for this work) is to make a deep nick of just the right depth and then ease the stem down so that it splits naturally and rests at a suitable angle. Very scary at first, but after the first few you get the feel of it.
The result looks drastic and people are already asking me when it will look like a hedge rather than a scene of devastation! I hope that the pleaching will stimulate plenty of new growth. I greatly enjoyed taking up an old woodland craft once more (I’d done it before, way back in the 80’s).
Small fields bounded with hedges are one of the defining features of the British landscape. During my lifetime thousands of miles of them were grubbed out as agriculture intensified, but in recent years farmers have been getting grants to replant them.
A few days afterward after my hedge laying I was on Mull and came across a mighty ash that had keeled over in a storm. The main trunk had actually been pleached by the wind, and sent up many healthy vertical stems.

duart castle ash storm damage

About edwardtyler

I live in Kintyre, the long peninsula acting as a natural breakwater for the Firth of Clyde, west of Glasgow. A Permaculture and Transition practitioner, I am working with fellow community activists to co-create a resilient and vibrant local bioregion.

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