Generations of farmers have been responsible
for creating and managing hedges as stock-proof barriers and shelter
for livestock and crops for many years. On the fringes of Dartmoor,
some hedges continue the boundaries ('reaves') of Bronze Age field
systems, some 3,500 years old. The ancient Celts are thought to
have believed that the souls of the dead lie in the hedgebanks...
The Devon hedge consists of an earth bank
faced with stone or turf which usually has bushy shrubs on the
top. They are characteristically very old, rich in wildlife and
visually very attractive. Hedgerows in general are known to support
a tremendous range of wildlife interest – otherwise referred to as ‘biodiversity’ (i.e.
biological diversity). Over 600 plant species, 1500 insects, 65
birds and 20 mammal species have been recorded at some time living
or feeding in hedgerows.
Hedge laying is a skill which is being re-invigorated
nowadays with farmers being encouraged to return to the ‘old ways’ of
hedgerow management. For example, in South Devon, Natural England
has been awarding grants to restore and maintain hedgebanks.
On this course - you will learn how to assess
a hedgerow for ‘steeping’ (
the Devon term), what woods will bend and flex, when to tackle
the job and how to tie the work together. You will learn the way
to create the thick and bushy growth of an effective barrier offering
significant shelter against the wind, animals, and even your neighbours!
The emphasis will be a ‘hands-on approach
and you will leave with plenty of learning materials to take
home and use to your advantage. All tools provided.
• An introduction to the tradition of hedge-laying.
• How to identify and prepare your hedgerow
• How to boost your earth wall or foundation
• How to cut and shape wood
• How to deal with an eroded or gappy hedge
• How to prepare ‘steepers’
Course numbers are restricted to a maximum of 10 people so there
will be plenty of time for your questions and one-to-one attention.
Lunch and refreshments will be provided from produce grown at
the Husbandry School, naturally.