Country diary: the vanishing craft of hedge laying
Stamford, Linconshire: This countryside art is part drystone walling, part forestry, part embroidery. But it’s also a canny corralling of nature’s own tenacity
Hedges are highways of biodiversity. They’re teeming, humming lines of life – literally. They interlock with the uniform spaces of agriculture like moss between flagstones.
For humans, they are a triumph. A gift. As well as parcelling the landscape usefully, they slow the soil-stripping gales, they self-repair, and they shelter scores of useful species. Few human influences have been beneficial to nature. But since the second world war, even this example of progress has gone sharply backwards, with hundreds of thousands of miles of hedgerows uprooted.