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Laying claim to a work of craft

Posted on November 18 2008 at 11:48:43

Volunteers with completed hedge

A team of volunteers got to grips with the techniques used for “laying” a hedge in the traditional manner to turn a neglected border in Cofton Hackett into an example of rural craft. 

The hedge, which runs between “The Stocken” bridlepath off the end of Chestnut Drive and the former allotments, was a concern for the parish council because it was very overgrown and also had holes through it.

After the parish approached Worcestershire County Council Countryside Service, Wade Muggleton, who works for the service, came to have a look back in April. He suggested that if the parish could find a team of local volunteers, he was prepared to supervise the work necessary to lay the hedge in the old fashioned way.

They had to wait until November because of nesting wildlife and to make sure the sap was no longer rising in the hedge, but one bright autumn day 13 volunteers assembled, eager to learn something new.

First they had to clear all undergrowth, ivy, brambles and barbed wire from half the hedge line. Wade then demonstrated the techniques of “pleaching” – almost cutting through the base of the hedge stems and then laying them down at about 40 degrees to the ground.

He then showed how to insert vertical stakes of hazel every metre or so and adding the final topping made with twisted thin stems of hazel, called “heathering”, which bind the whole structure together. 

The volunteers were divided into small groups to have a go on a section each, with all of them achieving good results, according to parish clerk Barry Hodgson.
Another team of 11 volunteers assembled the following day, including some from the previous day, to tackle the remaining section of the hedge.

“After the two days’ work we have now got a section of laid hedge some 65 metres long which will now grow and protect the boundary for several years to come,“ said Barry. 

“In fact, such was the enthusiasm that we might arrange more work parties in the New Year to do more outdoor work in the parish.”

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