The Garden in February

Snowdrops at Nymans

The woods team has been hard at work laying a hedge which you can find on the way down to the cottage in the heart of the woods.

Beautifully delicate snowdrops appear early
A caterpillar climbs a snowdrop at Trelissick, Cornwall


There are several steps involved in laying a hedge. The first consisting of clearing the underside of the hedge of any bramble leaving clear access to the base of the stem of the tree. Following on from that you begin to pleach the stems of the trees or shrubs in the hedge.

Snowdrops at Parke, Devon
Snowdrops at Parke, Devon


Pleaching is an old technique in which you must cut into the stem of a tree two thirds of the way in, leaving just enough of the stem intact that you can then bend the tree over to the side and ‘lay’ it down. You must always make sure to lay uphill as the sap rises up the stem. Once you have completed the pleaching you are then able to add in the stakes, which we made from freshly coppiced Nymans hazel. These are spaced in a straight line holding all of the laid material in place. Following on from the stakes you then add your thin hazel binders which are weaved very carefully around the stakes.

The craft of hedge laying has been around since the 1800’s when the Enclosures Act was first brought into practice and the laid hedges effectively stock proofed the boundaries between fields. A laid hedge has many benefits to the ecology of the area as the new growth which is formed gives a source of food and nesting sites to a huge number of animals, also allowing them to move freely between habitats and it helps to extend the life of the trees within the hedge.

Aesthetically a laid hedge looks incredibly beautiful because you can see clearly the amount of time, effort and craftsmanship that has gone into making one. It makes normal hedges look rather mundane in comparison. Why not come down and have a look at the finished article in the woods?