Before the wood was planted, the hedges marked the boundaries of the original farmer’s fields – they had been deliberately planted and, once upon a time, would have been regularly maintained. Their main purpose would have been to keep sheep and cattle contained within a specific pasture area, but hedges also provide shade and shelter – how often have you seen cattle huddling against a hedge in a storm? - as well as providing an essential corridor for wildlife.
However, it’s been a couple of decades or more since these hedges have had any attention. The trees and shrubs that make up the hedges – mostly blackthorn and hawthorn, some ash and hazel, among others – have grown upwards (as trees will), leaving gaps at the base and losing the essential ‘hedginess’ that characterises this important landscape feature.
The traditional art of hedgelaying is a means of restoring the hedges to their former glory. It’s been practised for hundreds of years, enabling hedges to thrive and serve their original purposes without any need for barbed wire and posts.
The basic technique involves cutting nearly all the way through the base of the shrib stems and laying them over at an angle. The cut stems are then tucked tightly together and the plant regenerates new growth in the succeeding years.
As part of Carrickfergus Council’s Hedgerow Hopes project, you can help to restore the hedges of Jubilee Wood by learning this ancient craft of hedgelaying. On Saturday 15th November, between 10am & 3pm, there’ll be experts on hand in the Jubilee Wood to show you how to do it.
This is your chance to help us begin the process of bringing the Jubilee Hedges back to vibrant life, enhancing their value as a home for wrens and blackbirds, bullfinches and yellowhammers.