We worked on a line of hawthorn hedge at the outer limit of the landscape area, continuing on from where a previous visit had started laying the hedge. Traditionally this type of hedge laying is used to create a dense barrier to keep animal stock in its fields. A side benefit of creating such a structure is that it creates an ideal habitat for wildlife, and this was the reason for our work here.
Nick demonstrated the technique required to cut a "pleacher", a sort of hinge cut out (using a billhook) from the bottom of the plant enabling it to be bent over and staked. Before having a go ourselves, we cleared all of the small branches from each plant, up to about 5 feet high, which would allow the plant to be bent over without snagging, and we removed dead leaves and twigs from the ground around each "trunk" so that we could get to the plant where we needed to make the cut. Access was quite awkward, with the hedge being found at the bottom of a slope and fenced in, so I found some of the cutting quite difficult. It was, however, very satisfying and I think I started to get the technique after a couple of hours. I could still spend days (if not weeks) trying to get it spot on though!
A small group used some of the trees on the site to make stakes for the hedge, but I think that most of us had a good go at making the pleachers. We managed to lay a surprising length of hedge, and it will be great to see how the plants will look in a year or so. There's still at least a couple more days before the rest of the hedge is done.
After all of the sawing and cutting of hawthorn in a tight space at the bottom of a slope I got home with slightly bruised knuckles and scratched hands, as if I'd been in a bare knuckle fight. All in a day's work!