At this time of year our hedgerows light up with autumnal decoration. Lush and dense during the Summer, frothy with blossom in the Spring, in Autumn they excel . With the colours of hips and haws, sloes, holly and spindle berries, privet and blackberries and long necklaces of bryony. They glitter in the slanting sunlight and seem to anticipate Christmas festivity.
Although they are the work of human hands, hedgerows, like railway and motorway embankments, have become important habitats for wildlife providing food, shelter and protection for breeding. They are wildlife corridors and are recognised nationally as such and given the protection of the law.
They might look unkempt and even boring but they are truly 'national treasures'. Gardeners are now encouraged to plant hedges of native species rather than put up fences or plant cultivated species. This brings to our gardens what the hedgerow brings to the fields, lanes and roadsides. They probably increase the health of the garden too.
Of course not all gardens can give a home to a hedgerow but not far away will be a long established one, possibly several hundred years old, which can be enjoyed and cared for. It is surprising just how many different plants can be found there let alone birds and mini-beasts. It is worth having a good look at a hedgerow.
"Forth I must by hedgerow bowers
To look at the leaves uncurled,
And stand in the fields where cuckoo-flowers
Are lying about the world."
A.E. Housman, Complete Poetical Works of A. E. Housman
For more information on the regulations covering hedgerows
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URC Chapel, Wiltown
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