We went for a walk this afternoon, LT, Zerlina, Gus and me and on the way home I started telling LT about the hedge. It runs all along the road frontage and round the corner down to the start of the field, it’s probably around 400 yards in all.
It was an old hedge in poor condition. Thirty years later, I can’t tell you if it could have been resuscitated – Russell didn’t think it could be, he said that there was too much rotten wood in there. And we got a grant towards the cost of grubbing it out. We also got a grant towards the cost of planting a new hedge. I don’t think one was dependant on the other, but it’s lost in time now. Anyway, we had the hedge taken out and burned it all up on the front field. It was a fairly massive job. Then we had our friend Alan – not that I knew him as a friend at that time – take out a trench with his JCB and then we had tons and tons of muck delivered. As far as possible, it was put in the trench but there was a lot of manual shifting done by me and Russell. It was a lot of effort and we worked very hard indeed. Then, there was the planting of the new hedge, which we also did. We had hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, holly and some oak and ash trees. A neighbour pinched some of the holly bushes soon afterwards to sell, but we didn’t challenge him. A nice man when sober, he was impossible when drunk. He said to me once that it was his downfall that he never had a hangover and, once he started to drink, he couldn’t stop. He knew it had ruined his life.
The year after we planted the hedge was a dry one and Russell took water down in a water cart and bucketed it onto the roots. That and the manure we’d spread saved it. It’s a fine hedge and I’m rather proud of it, actually. It needs trimming back now, it not having been done for three or four years. We used to have it flailed when a neighbour was having his hedge done, but it was never done as we wanted it. There’s nothing wrong with a flail as long as it doesn’t go into mature wood, which gets split and splintered. We just asked for that year’s growth to be tidied up but it was always cut back too far. It really does need cutting again now, though. I’d like to get it done by hand, but it’s too big a job. I’ll wait until people have had a chance to pick the sloes though.
Except, LT noticed that you can’t see the sign with the name of the road any longer. So we’re going to go down and trim it back there ourselves.