Page 27 - Forest Row Local November Edition
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range of mixes of native species including Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Beech, Hornbeam, Dog rose, Viburnums and many more: often they can be edible and all of them are of great interest to wildlife. These hedges can look slightly less tidy than the formal hedge,
but what you lose on tidiness you gain in ecological richness - in Autumn a mixed hedge is a delightful mix of berries, leaf colour and different textures, possibly with the odd late rose. If your garden is large enough you could also consider allowing one or two of the plants to become trees, a simple way to increase tree numbers.
Making new friends?
Britain has possibly the largest number of garden hedges in Europe, reflecting our wish for privacy and protection. Although this is on the whole a good thing, it can be a problem. All hedges tell two stories: privacy for you may mean overpowering darkness for your neighbour! Hedges are truly a reflection of the consciousness of today: we want and need something for ourselves, to feel protected and secure, we feel
it is our sovereign right, but by exerting this right to the exclusion of all else we may forget the other. If you look on the Gov.UK website there is a surprising amount written about disputes between neighbours regarding hedges, and as a gardener for more than 35 years I can attest it is a very common problem. However a few simple tips can help for good relations: the main one would be to keep your hedges low and regularly trimmed. For most situations a height of 2 metres is adequate, any higher will block out light for yourself and your neighbour; plus a tall hedge is expensive to prune as it involves a large amount of ladder work. Please never trim just half your hedge top: if you can reach right over to your neighbours I would always advise finishing the cut. There are three reasons for this : one, it will look much better immediately (without having to wait perhaps weeks or longer for the other half to be done), two:
it will make your neighbour happy and three: next year they may be inclined to prune the whole top themselves, to repay your kindness. A final thought, If you can’t reach right over the top but have time and energy, why not go round and ask if you can prune
it from their side? Radical perhaps, but I have met some very interesting people on the other side of a hedge; and in these times, for me at least, meeting interesting people (and making them happy at the same time) seems like a good idea!
By Michael Fuller
November 2020
• Forest Row Local 27
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