Tossing and turning of grass to dry it out is called 'tedding'.

HEDGES, TREES & WOODLANDS

Hedge laying is a very old craft (at least 5000 years old), which rejuvenates the hedge plants, at the same time thickening the hedge for wildlife and improving it as a stock barrier. It involves the partial severing of the stems, as close to the ground as possible. These stems are then bent over (in the same direction and usually uphill - being careful not to snap them!) at an angle of 30-40 degrees and woven with cut vertical stakes driven in 18 inches apart along the line of the hedge. The 'hethering' (long hazel rods woven like a rope to bind the tops of the stakes together) is then woven along the tops of the stakes, forming a living hurdle. The result should be very strong and impregnable to stock and very warm and welcoming to songbirds and small mammals.

Hedgerow trees and saplings are retained and the opportunity is taken to 'beat up' the hedge (fill in the gaps) with young saplings of a wide range of native species. All species have a natural life span and in the case of shrubby hedgerow species this is 50-60 years.

Coppicing, like hedge laying, is an ancient system of management which effectively enables this lifespan to be extended indefinitely. In some very old managed woods there are coppice 'stools' (the cut stumps from which new re-growth appears) of Hazel which are are known to be over 1000 years old - far longer than any Hazel plant could live, unaided.

Coppicing can be applied to most native deciduous trees and shrubs and requires the plant to be cut as close to the ground as possible. This has the paradoxical effect of completely rejuvenating the plant - in effect giving rise to a natural clone of the mother plant.

As with hedge laying, trees and saplings are retained and the opportunity is taken to 'beat up' the hedge - hence most of our hedgerows now contain a much wider range of species than the original enclosure hedges (which were almost entirely composed of Hawthorn).

We coppice/lay our hedges on an approximately 30 year rotation. In the intervening years we keep them healthy by flail trimming.

One year in three, during the late winter (after the berries have been stripped), we flail our hedges. This keeps the hedge to a suitable size and encourages 'tillering' (many new young shoots at the cut) which thickens the hedge.

Hawthorn only flowers (and thus fruits) on 'old' (over a year) wood so will produce berries 2 years out of 3. Each side of the hedge is flailed on a different 3-year rotation, so our hedge should fruit on one side or the other every year.

Our hedges provide a home and food for a huge number of insects, birds and mammals. In most cases they mark field and village boundaries that are thousands of years old, and they form the single most characteristic landscape of the English countryside.

Burwash Manor hosts a hedge-laying competition every Autumn. Several of our hedges were 'laid' during the 2003 National Hedge Laying Championships. Some seven different styles of hedgelaying were employed but the differences are now almost imperceptible.

website by www.mackandme.com