Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Hedging my bets

This Sunday just gone couldn't have been more different to the previous one. Thunder, lightning and hail were replaced by bright sunshine. Great tits burst into song (they do this whenever there is a hint of spring in the air. Will they never learn?), blue tits prospected for nest sites and, most delightfully the first skylark song of the year rang out all day long.

There was still a fairly stiff breeze though. This is a price we pay here on The Fens in exchange for huge skies and 360 degrees of almost uninterrupted horizon. Another plus is that the breeze has managed to dry out the ground a little. The mud is now a little less slippy and a bit more sticky!

I've resisted surrounding our land with laurels or leylandii, but there are times when I wish there was a bit more shelter. The same goes for the chickens and my vegetable plants. Pigs and sheep don't seem so bothered.
Give it a couple of years and this will be a magnificent privet hedge.

So I have come up with a plan, but it's one that requires a fair degree of patience. I've decided to plant a series of hedges to break up the worst of the wind. I'd already done some of this with an edible hedgerow, which is growing and thickening up nicely, but at this time of year deciduous plants do little to stop a harsh wind blowing through.

So I spent this Sunday planting 150 bareroot plants. I purchased them on the internet and I have to say I was very pleased indeed with the quality of the plants. They had excellent root systems and should settle in very quickly. After yesterday's post about the merits of taking cuttings, I could have gone down the cuttings route for my hedges, but a three year heads start was, in this case, well worth it. I can always add the cuttings into the scheme if they take.

The main hedging plant I've used is good old privet. It holds most of its leaves throughout the year, it grows relatively quickly and its fairly easy to keep at a reasonable height, which means I can still scan the fields for birds and still enjoy expansive views. It's not the native form, but it still provides a very reasonable habitat and cover.
More privet to give the chickens a break from the wind.

I also purchased a moderate number of copper beech plants. These are, in fact, Sue's early Valentine's present as this is her favourite tree. Not just a good looker, copper beech also hangs onto its leaves through the winter when its kept as a hedge. Not only that, but they rustle. I love a bit of rustling.

The geese inspecting my new copper beech hedge.
Come back in five years and listen to them rustle
(the beech leaves, not the geese!)

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