The farm invites the hunt to enjoy their acreage a few times a year and while there are some lovely big log jumps and some rustic fences set around the farm, we have talked to H (the farmer) about the possibility of laying a hedge to provide a “Beacher’s Brooke” for the braver jockeys to enjoy.
I expressed an interest in learning hedge laying last autumn and made some initial enquiries to the National Hedge Laying Society so that I could take a course.
I have never found the time to do the course but I did do a bit of research and, like my dearest friend Kate would say,”I’ve read half an article and now I’m an expert’. Very funny and I love her for it!
But seriously, how hard can it be? I did read the principles and believe I have a grasp on the basics of what is required to ensure that the shrub stays alive!
There is obviously technique in the cutting so the tree doesn’t just snap off when you try to bend it over: I read about that! There is obviously an optimum trunk thickness or tree age for ease and success: I read about that! I figure that made me pretty ready.
When it occurred to the farmer to cut out a chunk of one of his hawthorn hedges a few weekends ago, he decided that it might be worth getting it laid rather than just cutting it to a jumpable height. So he came looking for us and set the challenge for the weekend.
Hawthorn is evil stuff and we (my chief helper and I) were both scratched from top to bottom with our fair share of nasty splinters from the thorns (I can’t tell you how much they hurt!).
The process looks pretty brutal when you see the stripped hedge plants and the cleaved trunks all lying down (away from the wind direction and uphill so the sap can still rise: I read about that!).
The hedge was a bit too mature for laying really: I read about that! That did make the whole process a bit more tricky. We had to use the chain saw instead of the machette mostly in order to make any progress through the trunks but we got there and I THINK it looks pretty good (eeek!)
The test will be it’s survival through the winter months and how well it does in the spring.
There are some new hedges on the farm so we think there will be more hedge laying once they get a bit more established, assuming of course that we haven’t killed this one and we are invited to have another go.