Whilst the house team tackles the world of mould, the complexities of the sandstone and celebrates a fantastic World War One feature, the estate rangers have tackled the world of blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel and celebrated a wonderful day with the South East England Hedge Laying Society (SEHLS).
What is hedge laying? – It is when an existing hedge line, having been allowed to grow for at least 12 years, is laid to rejuvenate the trees and shrubs in the hedge and reinstate it’s function as a stock boundary. Each individual living stem to partially severed (or pleached) with a range of hand (or sometimes power) tools, and placed up hill in the same direction.
Why hedge lay? – Across the country hedges are managed in different ways. Some are neglected, some are flailed with a tractor, some are grubbed out, whilst some are still laid in traditional ways. Laying is proven to be the best stock proof barrier as the stems are laid along the ground, then on top of each other, preventing any gaps in the line. To be extra secure the hedge is also staked every 18″ and binders are wrapped through the stakes to give the height back. It is in fact better than a wire fence because the thorns in the hedge deter stock from trying to break through.
Are there wildlife benefits of hedge-laying? – Yes there are many. Hedges are great wildlife corridors and sources of food for many insects, birds and mammals. The thicker the better, the thornier the better, the more shrub species the better as this provides great shelter for wildlife. Hedge laying encourages all of this. Dormice, Whitethroats, Brown Hairstreaks, Great Crested Newts and Stag beetles are just a few species that thrive in a hedgerow landscape. For more information go to http://www.hedgelink.org.uk/wildlife-and-hedgerows.htm.
SEHLS have there own website which (http://sehls.weebly.com/) where more can be found out about the history of the society and the benefits of hedge laying.
Here is more of the day in pictures:
Thank you for reading.
The Scotney Castle Ranger Team.