, , , , ,

170708 hedgerows (1)

Reading John Wright’s excellent book A Natural History of the Hedgerow and ditches, dykes and dry stone walls (Profile Books, London, 2016) has led me to look at the countryside with slightly more knowledgeable eyes, at least when it comes to field boundaries.

170708 hedgerows (6)

Not only does Wright’s book provide a superbly researched history of the hedges, dykes, ditches and dry stone walls that divide up the countryside, it also provides detailed information on the plants, birds, invertebrates and animals that inhabit Britain’s hedgerows, as well as including practical details on how the various boundaries are constructed and maintained.

Now, when I go out on my rural rambles or I’m being transported through the countryside by train, car or bus, I can recognise where hedges must once have grown by the broken line of mature trees marching across a field, I shake my head at the neglect of the hedgerows on so many farms (though I can appreciate the sculptural beauty of ancient hedgerow trees), I can spot where farmers have removed existing boundaries to create huge open fields, and I can appreciate how well-maintained hedges add an extra dimension to the landscape.

170708 hedgerows (4)

Wales and England now have legislation in place to protect hedgerows that meet certain criteria but it would be good if all hedgerows were protected and if more was done to ensure existing hedges were also properly nurtured and maintained.