As we lay winter to bed, the last of the hedges are folded in and pinned here at the farm.
Hedge laying at lower Sharpham has not only an ecological significance here but so much more.
Since hedge laying is such an old tradition, the history of which spans the ages, its ecological value is rich. From the regeneration of the trees we lay, giving age structure and diversity of habitat to the ecosystem, to bird nesting areas, wildlife corridors, and increased food production for nature.
As good hedge layers, nothing gets wasted. If it is not being laid to regrow, dead wood remains in the hedge to continue the cycle, crooks are made for pinning, and anything removed has its uses. Here at the farm we also have a charcoal kiln, that takes all the gnarly twisted timber and turns it into high-quality BBQ charcoal. Straight rods of good size are processed and go on to the garden for bean and pea poles, v- sticks are made into traditional walking sticks or cut down to make coat hooks. The uses are only limited by the imagination.
It has even been known for some of the timber to go on to www.shaw-wood.co.uk to become beautiful didgeridoos, bird feeders, and things that can be treasured for generations.
So here at lower Sharpham farm, we feel hedge laying as a skill a tradition and an ecological tool is not only worth keeping alive but is to be celebrated for all its merits.
✍ Stu Murdoch – Ambios Countryside Ranger
Stu has over 15 years of experience in conservation and land management, as well as a passion for passing on traditional rural skills and woodland development.