As so often, something small leads to something big. I thought I’d pick a few blackberries from the hedge at the back of the house. The result was spending most of the afternoon heaving at a dead blackthorn.
We’re very lucky around here. Being in an AONB – Area of Outstanding Beauty, England’s first – probably has something to do with it. The hedges are mostly in pretty good shape, compared to some parts of the UK, where they’ve been mostly replaced by wire fencing or removed completely as fields become larger and larger, with all the associated loss of wildlife and shelter.
Like many hedges, the one around this garden is made up of a mixture of different species, either in large sections or completely mixed: brambles or blackberry, honeysuckle (lonicera nitida also known as Poor Man’s Box), blackthorn, laurel, hazel, eleagnus, field maple and holly.
A hedge is a pretty substantial thing seen in cross section – this one must be almost 12 feet across – where they’re allowed to grow properly and not be cut for road safety or the convenience of moving gigantic farm machinery.
The reason this part of hedge is so clear in cross section is because a part of it has been removed – before my time – to allow views from the cottage across the hills down to Bridgwater Bay.
At the other end of the house, part of the hedge was at some time removed to allow for the building of the woodshed. Part of this, a bit of blackthorn, died last year and I’ve been waiting for the stump to rot enough for me to remove it and taking it out in bits whenever one of the trunks rotted enough to be pried loose.
Today I got rid of its last couple of trunks, after an afternoon of stripping and cutting away the ivy, brambles and roses. It looks annoyingly slender and light here in the wheelbarrow but it certainly wasn’t easy to shift.
Done now, though.