March 20th, 2008

International Kittens of Mystery

Hedge Slog

Our Spring hedging offensive has just finished - five days of hard toil and another 50 metres of hedge coppiced and replanted. With the emphasis on replanted. Most of our roadside hedge had been overrun with brambles and fern so we had to dig out the roots and replant with trees from our nursery*. Then we had to untangle the old barbed wire fence, uproot the old rotten fence posts and replace with new chestnut posts and sheep fencing.

I am now knackered.

*We have a tree nursery where we put any tree seedlings we find during the year. Beech from the fields which get trodden on or eaten by our big-footed animals otherwise; hazel, ash and hawthorn which birds insist on planting in our vegetable garden; and chestnut and holly which we grow from seed.

Holly is especially difficult to grow from seed. You have to simulate the passage of the seed through a bird's digestive tract. Not wanting to volunteer my digestive tract, we soaked the berries in water for a fortnight instead, changing the water every other day until the seed coat disintegrated. Then we scarified the seeds between two granite stones, planted them in a seed tray and waited two winters. The result: 200+ holly seedlings this spring. Next year's spring hedge offensive is going to see a large swathe of holly hedge planted.