Hedgelaying at Kingcombe
(Above) Lady's Mead hedge by Maurits Fontein (below) Oak Mock tree by Maurits Fontein, Lady's mead ditching by Maurits Fontein, work at Lady's Mead hedgerows by Maurits Fontein.
At our Kingcombe Meadows reserve there are reputedly 12 miles of hedgerows! Most of the hedges have been laid at some time in the past and the Dorset Wildlife Trust continues this practice on a 10-30 year rotation.
If you look in the hedges at Kingcombe you will see many ancient Oak, Ash and Field Maple mocks, which are evidence of the hedge having been laid or coppiced sometime in the past.
Hedges have a tremendous range of wildlife interest
Hedges are known to support a tremendous range of wildlife interest. In fact over 600 plant species, 1500 insects, 65 birds and 20 mammal species have been recorded at some time living or feeding in hedgerows. Hedges also provide wildlife corridors, and are a rich food resource in the form of flowers, fruits, seeds and foliage.
Network of hedges have been the same since 1844
The network of hedges here have been the same since 1844, and studies have shown that some may date from Saxon times. Management of the hedgerows aims to maintain the existing network and preserve the associated landscape features such as banks and ditches. In practice this means that once the hedge is laid, the ditch is re-dug, trees are planted to fill up the gaps, and the hedge is fenced to keep out stock.
800 metres of hedges laid at Kingcombe last winter by volunteers
In this last winter we laid 800 metres of hedges at Kingcombe alone! This would not have been possible without the help of our regular twice weekly winter volunteer work parties.
How to join in
Next winter we will have another 960 meters of hedges to lay. Hedgelaying has been very popular and we have had between 10-12 volunteers turning up twice a week. If it is something you have always wished to have a go at please get in touch with us next winter. The actual practice of hedgelaying is really very simple; you partially cut through the base of the hedge shrub or tree, and bend them over until they are parallel to the top of the bank. We provide tuition, tools and equipment, hot drinks and a baked potato from the fire. See you in October.