By Harriet Kent.
The delight of discovering what lies hidden within a hedgerow is not dissimilar to re-reading a favourite book. Leafing through the pages, reading between the lines, so to speak, and coming across something that was always close by, but which you didn’t know was there until you really looked.
Our hedgerows hold many a secret delight and, if you take time to gaze at them and through them at their beauty, you will be amazed at what you might find.
Initially one will see a grassy bank with a line of blackthorn, beech, hazel or hawthorn. At this time of year, tiny shoots of leaves are beginning to burst through their spindly and twiggy branches.
Colours of the hedgerows
These are lined with splashes of colour; the pink campions, white milkmaids, bluebells and a dash or two of primrose yellows and violets. They are like natural paintings with random, yet well-matched shades of pastel colours. Set against the backdrop of cow parsley’s tiny white flowers, there’s a hint of wild garlic and of course blades of swaying grasses, uncut and unspoilt.
Much like the lyrics of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin, ‘if there’s a bustle in your hedgerow…’ – this time of year is a very busy one for our bird population.
Within the boundaries of the twisted and tightly wrapped branches, birds have nested, hidden from human view but with much activity to ensure their broods are fully fed with periodic and frenzied feeding sessions, with the baby birds screeching from expertly crafted nests, for the latest titbit from their tireless parents.
Thankfully, farmers are replacing lost hedgerows on a more frequent basis, with dozens of lines of young whips in rabbit-proof plastic tubes being planted to fill the gaps where historic hedgerows used to be. Not only do these define field boundaries, but they are also essential habitats for our wildlife and excellent windbreaks for livestock on those wild and windy days.
It is certainly always worth taking a peek into the world of the hedgerow. Spend a few minutes and just admire the sheer delicate beauty of what lies within.