Exmouth residents learn thorny business of hedge laying

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By TheGreenMan | Monday, January 28, 2013, 14:27

EXMOUTH RESIDENTS have been learning the thorny business and traditional craft of hedge laying. Ten people recently attended a National Trust hedge-laying day at Lower Halsdon Farm, Exmouth. After tuition, they were able to create yards of long-lasting natural barrier, that's also a haven for wildlife…

Held on Saturday 26 January, the day-long event was hosted by the National Trust's East Devon Rangers Kate Sheard and Sue Myers. Participants on the day included members of Transition Town Exmouth, local residents... and Badger the Dog.

Kate and Sue explained that years ago – before the use of electric fences – hedges helped farmers to keep cattle and sheep in the fields. Hedge laying was a typical winter occupation for farm labourers.

The hedges were not trimmed to size or allowed to grow naturally. Instead, by carefully bending down the tall saplings and weaving the branches and twigs around them, the hedge would grow into a compact, thorny barrier.

Kate and Sue claimed the laid hedge would last ten years and as an added bonus, it encouraged wildlife.

Where's there's muck...

Billed as a National Trust "family muck-in day", muck there certainly was, the field being saturated by the winter's rain, but according to TTE member Adrian Toole, "Spirits were lifted by the rare all-day sun, and the fantastic views of the estuary and the hills beyond".

To help with the work, the National Trust supplied bill-hooks, loppers, bow-saws and gloves. "The results were impressive, with many yards of hedge beaten into submission," said Adrian Toole.

Hedging your bets

There's another chance to lay hedges on Saturday 23 February, 10am-3pm. If you'd like to attend, ring Noel Harrower, TTE's secretary, on 01395 271731 to book a place. Please wear tough clothing and wellies, and bring a packed lunch.

Visit the East Devon Rangers website to learn more about the Rangers' work or call 01297 680507.

More pictures: Hedge laying at Lower Halsdon Farm

      

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