There are a number of community allotments on Saint Ann’s. The community allotments receive funding from organisations that often set guidelines to be met by the community allotment team. These can include the provision of opportunities for disadvantaged people in the local neighbourhood, and the provision of education and training. Meeting these guidelines helps keep the allotments alive, catering for a much larger number and variety of people than they otherwise might. This can help increase the longevity of allotments as they are less likely to be sold off for developments such as housing whilst providing benefits to a wide range of people.
Alastair is the professional hedge layer who came with all his tools to show us hedge laying for the day. We began by clearing the scrub around the hedge – removing ivy and suckers to make the hedge look tidy and make it easier for us to get to the trunks lower down.
Using bill hooks we cut into the trunk, aiming for a downward angle of around 66 degrees to the horizontal. As we get most of the way through the cut, we ease off with the bill hook (not wanting to go the whole way through – enough of the xylem and phloem need to remain in order for water, nutrients and food to pass up and down the trunk respectively) and gently begin to prise the tree sideways – ‘lay’ it.
Next, using a bow saw we would tidy the trunk off at an angle so that rain water will flow away from the cut, as can be seen in the left picture, above.
We then hammered in stakes at approximately 1m intervals, and weaved the laid hedge around them. We worked in groups of two, at intervals along the hedge and slowly met up as we worked our way through the laying.
The resulting laid hedge will sprout new growth low down, keeping it thick and healthy, and providing habitat for wildlife. These benefits were in decline before the hedge was laid, as can be seen in the top right photo of the top bunch of photos.
This was two days of good hard graft that I enjoyed and the wildlife conservation benefits should last for years.
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