Let’s Go Outside: Digging for Hedgerows

8 May

photoIt is at this time of the year, when the green is coming back onto the bare branches, when the blossom is shining out, that the hedgerows are getting their moment of glory. As I drive the school run in the morning the green leaves look fresh and healthy and the white blossom of the hawthorn contrasts beautifully. They’re by the side of the roads next to the farmers’ fields and as the country roads lead to the dual carriageway the hedges continue as long sighted road planners planted them when the roads were built or widened.

Since the Second World War hedgerows have declined significantly. And from 1986 and 1990 alone, according to The Independent, we lost 50,000 miles of hedgerows. After the war there was pressure on the farmers to increase food production and when larger machinery was developed hedgerows were removed as the machines could not operate in smaller fields. Fortunately now hedgerows are more protected and grants are available to encourage their growth.

Hedgerows are incredibly important for wildlife. They are a haven – providing food, shelter and protection from predators. Butterflies, small mammals and birds can all be found in hedgerows. They can also help prevent soil erosion and store carbon to help combat climate change. As an added bonus they can also be an effective security measure. You wouldn’t scramble through a prickly hedge unless your life depended on it.

This bank holiday weekend therefore saw myself and hubby planting 100 hawthorn hedging plants. We’ve been lucky that spring was delayed as it has meant we have been able to plant much more bare-rooted plants than if spring had come early. He dug a small hole and I popped in the hawthorn, along with cane and rabbit protector. For the moment we have purely hawthorn, but when the bare-root season comes around again in November I’d like to add to that with Guelder Rose, Dog Rose, Sweet Briar and so on.

But for now, we’ve absolutely, definitely, finished with our bare-root planting. Until November.

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