Last week, visitors to Plymbridge Woods may have come across National Trust Rangers hedge laying Midlands style.
The vegetation (predominantly Hawthorn) utilised was cut, but not completely severed at the base, and then laid at a 30º angle whilst woven between wooden stakes simultaneously. To hold the laid vegetation in place, a top binding was then applied using thin lengths of Hazel stems from coppiced areas in the woodland.
The decision to create a Midlands style hedge was based upon the absence of a bank beneath the planted vegetation, unlike a Devon style hedgerow. The latter is characteristic of most hedgerows in Devon and the South West, where the vegetation is cut in a similar way, but then laid flat on the bank and “stapled” to the surface using pieces of wood called crooks.
Laying the hedge will allow more light onto a nearby entrance area to the woodland, as well as allow the hedgerow vegetation to temporarily avoid the less careful trimming devices used, to maintain a clear route on the adjacent road. The task has also allowed National Trust Rangers to utilise newly acquired skills in hedge laying. Members of the Plym Valley team have recently been attending courses hosted by the Devon Rural Skills Trust on hedge laying, as well as those covering coppicing, stone faced banking and hand tool maintenance.