Hedgelaying at Summerhill

Maintaining our heritage

Hedges are recognised as part of our heritage and for their great value to wildlife and the landscape. Increasingly, they are valued for playing a major role in preventing soil loss and reducing pollution, and for their potential to regulate water supply and to reduce flooding. And at Summerhill will hopefully help to reduce that infernal traffic noise!

If hedges are not maintained and trimmed regularly, gaps tend to form at the base over many years. In essence, hedgelaying consists of cutting most of the way through the stem of each plant near the base, bending it over and interweaving or pleaching it between wooden stakes. This also encourages new growth from the base of each plant.

The theory behind laying a hedge is easy. The practice is much harder, requiring skill and experience.

The Trust is indeed fortunate to have the support of such skilled workers. The hedges at Summerhill have probably seen little maintenance since the canal closed - until last year. Our Green and Grounds team are currently nearing the end of about a 1 kilometre stretch of ancient hawthorn hedge where Roger and Jean Barnett in particular, but others too, worked tirelessly through last winter. They have been heartened to see their  efforts flourishing even to the extent of needing a little trimming!

On November 5th 2016 we were fortunate to receive some training in hedgelaying from Hayley Dorrington of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. Hayley is very experienced and regularly takes part in competitions. In fact she recently came 4th in the ‘Derby Open’ class of the National Hedgelaying Championships. ‘Derby’ is a style of hedgelaying, there are distinctive methods from many parts of the country and as you can see from the video is  slightly different to the method used by Roger & Jean.

Hayley has given us some very good advice on  how to continue and hopefully we will have even more sprouting next spring. Watch this space!

Read more about hedgelaying on Wikipedia.

Many thanks to all our Green & Grounds volunteers, including many not seen in this video.

Paul Marshall

Environment Matters   2016  Issue 3

Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

Hayley Dorrington, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Roger and Jean Barnett

Hegding laid last year, flourishing this year

Green & Grounds volunteers receiving expert advice from Hayley

Video by Paul Marshall taken during training day on November 5th.

Majestic trees and autumnal colours at Summerhill. The towpath is proceeding well  and the cleared canal bed is even holding water giving some idea of how it will look.