Did you know that next week (29 May – 6 June) is the very first National Hedgerow Week? You can find out more on the Tree Council website here
Hedgerows are a vital part of our countryside, with practical uses such as creating shelter for livestock, game birds and crops, and acting as windbreaks that help prevent soil erosion.
An established hedge normally includes a number of tree or shrub species giving it structure and has climbing plants growing through and up it such as honeysuckle, rose, bramble and ivy which are all popular with wildlife. At a shady base you can often find woodland flower growing such as primrose and violets, and sunnier spots may have a whole variety of wild flowers and grasses thriving in the shelter of the hedge.
Hedges are home to a huge variety of plants and wild animals including at least 47 species of conservation concern in the UK. Over 1500 types of insect, 600 plants, 65 birds and 20 mammals have been found in our hedgerows.
These humble hedges act as crucial wildlife corridors for reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. For example the common dormouse will never travel over open ground, so they are unable to find new habitats without these crucial hedgerow highways when their nests and feeding grounds are lost or threatened.
Since the 1950s intensive food production was encouraged, and over the next fifty years it is estimated we lost over 100,000 miles of hedgerows. This and other factors such as increased use of pesticides, changes in crops grown through the year, grassland management and damp areas lost to better field drainage, has led to a dramatic loss of farmland birds, and other species.
“On the Verge” volunteers want to restore and plant more hedgerows in Seaford. These might be near farmland, but also around more urban spaces too. In our gardens too, it is far better for our wildlife to have a mixed native hedgerow rather than a fence or single hedging plant like conifers.
If a hedge is to thrive, it needs to be looked after properly, as unchecked, the shrubs become trees, and then gaps appear at the lower level. If trimmed too harshly, the hedge will never flower or fruit, and it will not be a good wildlife habitat.
Would you like to help plant and maintain hedges round Seaford? All levels of expertise are welcome. Do get in touch if you would like to help or learn more.
You can find out more about hedgerows in “Field Studies Council’s “Guide to Hedgerows”. These wipeable spotting cards are great to carry around with if you have a particular interest in learning about our wild spaces or the creatures that live there. FSC publish many different ones including wild flowers, bats, trees, dragonflies, butterflies, grasshoppers etc.
We’re delighted to share the news that through SEA/On The Verge’s partnership, Annecy School has been successful in their application for a Learning Through Landscapes Nature School grant. This gives the school £500 of equipment and training for staff, and they will use this for their food growing project. We’re looking forward to our other projects at the school: planting a hedgerow, trees and creating a mini meadow.