Wednesday, 30 November 2005

3 years of hedgelaying at Kennelwood, Nantwich

Late November 2004 saw the beginning of my work at Kennelwood, which runs alongside the Nantwich Road near Combermere, North Shropshire/ South Cheshire.

Kennelwood is an organic site, growing and selling hay from their wildflower meadows. Richard Smith the owner of Kennelwood, asked me to start laying his 'new' 8 year old hedges, planted between 1995 and 1997. Approximately 2 miles of hedgerows surrounding the meadows were planted in wide double rows, 1 meter apart, using 18 species of native broadleaves and shrubs, a massive 26,000 hedging plants and trees in total. (Plant list at end of article.) The ideal habitat for all sorts of wildlife has been carefully developed along with some assistance from the Stewardship Scheme.

Hedgelaying in blocks of between 80 to 200 yards, and leaving the same length in between each block till the following year, allowed wildlife to take some shelter nearby, and stagger the regeneration work around the site.

Having done many Conservation Volunteer Holidays with the BTCV, and leading groups on residential hedgelaying weeks, I was up for the task, but still, nevertheless, a little daunted at the size of the job ahead. The unusual meter width gap between the two rows meant having to adapt the traditional West Midlands style or Bullock hedge into a double-sided A-shaped Midlands style, which seems to keep it's shape well, looks great from both sides, and still forms a rigid stock proof barrier.

The winter grazing sheep are not encouraged to nibble the hedge, however tasty it may be - post and rail fences are currently being put up to act as a wildlife corridor, and allow a wider variety of wild flowers to grow in the cover of the hedge.

This year will be the third year of hedgelaying at Kennelwood, and will mean all 1 mile of the new hedgerows will have been laid by February 2007. An acheivement which I am really proud of and proud to be part of such an ambitious scheme.

Species of Native Broadleaves and shrubs planted in new hedges at Kennelwood 1995/97.
Acer Campestre
Carpinus Betulus
Cornus Sanguinea
Corylus Avellana
* Crataegus Monogyna
Euonymus Europaeus
Malus Sylvestris
Prunus Avium
Prunus Cerasifera
Prunus Padus
* Prunus Spinosa
Rhamnus Frangula
Rosa Canina
Rosa Rugosa
Viburnum Lantana
Viburnum Opulus
Ilex Aquifolium
Lonicera Periclymenum
* 60% of planting