Maintaining Horsenden’s living hedges is an enjoyable yet extremely important task.
Each year the farm hosts a hedging day when national hedge laying expert Clive Leeke visits Horsenden to coach willing volunteers in this country craft which has been practised for hundreds of years.
Correct management of our hedgerows is essential if we are to conserve our wildlife and landscape for future generations.
Hedgerows define our countryside and provide many environmental services and are vitally important for wildlife as a refuge, a source of food, and as corridors along which they can move through the landscape. Hedges were traditionally laid to prevent sheep and cows from raiding kitchen gardens and to stop spring lambs wandering off from their mums.
Generations of countrymen made a living tending the hedges and stone walls across the land.
In time they became the village apothecary with a ready supply of medicinal flowers and fruits. Later generations of lords and ladies learned to leap their steeds over them as they sped across the fields chasing foxes.
Wire fences, tractors, wartime food shortages, field sizes and chemical fertilisers began the decline of the hedge and with it the skills that were once so valued. Nowadays, traditional crafts such as hedge laying are popular once more. At Horsenden we are rightly proud of our living hedges and our team of enthusiastic hedge layers treat them with tender loving care.
Hedge laying needs to be undertaken in late winter or early spring and certainly before the nesting season gets underway. Check our Events section for future dates if you’re interested in learning this ancient skill that is so relevant today. Once you know the basics, there will be opportunities to get involved in hedge maintenance activities.