Those of you who follow my blog regularly may remember back in February we laid one of our hedges.
It looked rather drastic at the time – but this type of hedgerow management has been used for hundreds of years in Britain and Ireland. Our hedge is looking well, all the trees have regrown. This is what it looks like today.
Ash in hedge
The climbing roses which grow though the hedge are a heritage variety. They have been flowering all summer. The smell is heavenly.
Hedge laying is an ancient craft of hedgerow management that is sadly in decline. We planted this hedgerow about five years ago. It has a mix of species, oak, ash, chestnut and birch. We decided to lay the hedge, to make it thicker. Some of the species we’ve planted may not lay well (e.g. birch), so it’s a bit of an experiment. Traditionally in Ireland, farm hedgerows are composed mainly of hawthorn, blackthorn and ash, all of which are ideal for laying.
I know this may look a bit drastic. But by laying the trees horizontal you create a good thick base. The stems of the trees are cut, but not all the way through. The idea is that the tree will grow again from the stump.
Ash cut for laying
Uprights are cut and placed to keep the now horizontal stems in place.
Hopefully by the summer, this will be a mass of new leaves.
Both hedge laying and hedge coppicing are excellent ways of rejuvenating a traditional farm hedgerow that has become gappy or over-grown. More information about hedge-laying in Ireland can be found at http://www.hedgelaying.ie/index.php. In the UK there are a number of different ‘styles’ of hedge laying. Photographs can be seen on http://www.hedgelaying.org.uk/styles.htm