I can now lay a hedge, it's official. Not a particularly useful skill for a modern CV maybe, but it was something I had wanted to learn for a long time, so last month I took the plunge and signed up for a course that took place over four consecutive Sundays on a beautiful organic farm near Bristol.
It was hard work, after the first day every muscle in my body felt as if it was on fire, but it was great fun, very rewarding, and definitely worth a few aches and pains.
The hedge we were working on was mostly hazel with some blackthorn. This is how it looked when we started.
The first task was to clear away all the material that wasn't needed for laying which, given the thickness of the hedge, was a challenge in itself. We were told to put anything suitable for stakes or binding to one side for later use.
Once all the excess vegetation and debris had been moved away we had the task of deciding which stems to lay, which to use as living stakes, and which to remove. Gaps were filled by hammering in stakes made from hazel stems that had been removed from other parts of the hedge
Next we were shown how to cut into the stems with a bill hook so that they could be bent and woven between the stakes. This wasn't as easy as the instructor made it look, and took a fair bit of practice.
The final touches were to weave long hazel binders into the top of the hedge to hold it down, and saw off the stakes to a uniform height.
As we progressed our instructor gave us less and less help, and on the final session I teamed up with my husband to clear and lay our own section of hedge from start to finish. The final result is pictured below.
It may not be the most expertly laid section or hedge you will ever see, and we certainly weren't speedy, but we both thought it was a job well done... Does anyone need a husband and wife hedge laying team?