Each Thursday, from November to February, the conservation volunteers put on their sturdy boots and old clothes for some traditional hedgelaying. Well maintained hedges are an important habitat. They provide homes and food for a wide variety of wildlife, act as a wind break and are corridors along which animals can travel.
We lay in the Devon style where two lengths of hedge, with a space in the middle, are laid along the top of a bank. Most of the work is done with a billhook and handsaw – though occasionally a chainsaw is needed for the larger trees. This year’s hedge (between the Oak Barn field and Buttercup field) has a lot of elm in it. You might have noticed that some of the trees in this hedge have died. This is a result of Dutch elm disease which only affects the trees when they reach around 15 feet tall. Although the main trunk may die, the tree will produce suckers which remain unaffected if they are kept small – just as they are in a hedge.
We have set ourselves quite a challenge this year: a long stretch of hedge with ditches either side; but we’ve already started clearing the area so that when November comes we’ll be able to get right in and access the hedge.
The Thursday volunteers are a friendly bunch and whatever your skill level we’ll welcome an extra pair of hands. I joined the group at this time last year as a complete beginner but I’ve learned a lot from the other volunteers and I’m really looking forward to this winter!
We meet on Thursday mornings at 10am, usually outside COACH in French Weir park – and after working for a few hours we often head back over the bridge for a hot drink and a chat at The Weir. You don’t have to make a regular commitment; come as often as you like and do as much or as little as you want.
If you want to help local wildlife, enjoy the fresh air and maybe learn some new skills then get in touch! You can email our boss Helen: email@example.com, find us on twitter or Facebook, or stop by the hedge for a chat.