A section of very old hawthorn hedge on one side of the main path through the Sandy Lane Open Space LNR (not far beyond the play area) has been laid, and the area immediately behind this hedge has been cleared of bracken and several trees pruned.

This work began about six weeks ago and when it started our chief news reporter Norman went along and this is his report...

"It was a warm sunny day on the 27th of November and the sound of a chain saw from beyond the playground area announced the arrival of Chris Dean and his assistant Liam. Christopher is a champion hedge layer from Derbyshire and he was soon at work demonstrating his skill and expertise. He trained at Broomfield Agricultural College and qualified in Countryside Management and Conservation and also in tree surgery. Soon after leaving college he was asked to lay a hedge and agreed to give it a try. The supplier of stakes happened to be a four times champion and was so impressed that he persuaded Chris to enter a competition that he duly won. Since then he has won many matches and his work can be found in many areas of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Like all experts Christopher makes the job look easy. He looks at the tall growth and selects a branch to fell. He uses a chain saw to slice at an angle through three quarters of the trunk at the base.

He then pulls this trunk towards the ground making sure it does not snap. This is laid as the base and further trunks are felled in the same fashion to rest on top of each other.

Unnecessary growth is removed with a billhook and axe and finally stakes are hammered in to keep the line. New growth is guaranteed providing we keep the weeds down on a regular basis. Christopher explained that, rather like stone walling, hedge laying varies in different counties depending on livestock, the type of farming and also on the type of existing hedge.

Ours is the Derbyshire style! You may have been fortunate enough to see Chris in action but if not hopefully will appreciate his fine work.”

The hedge laying work was completed in ten days and then the Council Tree Department sent two of their team to clear most of the smaller trees and shape some of the more mature ones.

A few people have objected to this work and even though the initial work looks drastic the area will be transformed by the end of summer. The restored hedge and more open grassland will be hugely beneficial to nesting song birds, foraging green woodpeckers and several grassland loving species of butterfly like the Small Copper and Common Blue. Cowslips and primroses will be planted in the verge between the laid hedge and the path.

Just before Christmas a “munching monster” machine cleared all the tree debris from the site by shredding everything and grinding it into the ground. Avery impressive machine!

There will be further updates as the restoration project progresses.

The Friends are always looking for extra pairs of hands to help out or to simply support their work, so...

  • to find out when the next work session will take place, click here, or
  • to find out about becoming a member please contact us here, or
  • to discover what goes into managing the sites click here.

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