Villagers in Marlingford learn ancient skill of hedge-laying

Twenty-five volunteer tree wardens were introduced to the ancient craft of hedge-laying in Marlingford near Norwich on Saturday.

The aim of the session, led by Matt Davies from the Norwich Fringe Project - a local authorities' sponsored countryside management group - was to reinvigorate an old hedge bordering Mill Road and a flowering meadow which is a conservation area in the village.

The wardens, including locals Jean Austen and Cath Montague who had already spent two days clearing old fencing from the hawthorne, blackthorne, ash and oak hedge, donned steel cap boots and high visibility vests for the work.

Mr Davies explained that the practice involved trimming back the hedge row trees and then cutting three-quarters of the way through their stems near the base and laying them down.

This would cause them to grow vigorously in the spring from the point where they were cut; the section laid down would also shoot up thickening the hedge.

Hazel stakes were then put in at intervals along the hedgerow to strengthen it.

He said: 'It is a way of extending the life of the hedge, which is 30 to 40 years old and important to wildlife including the birds who nest in it.'

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Mrs Austen said the session would help them in their role of looking after the village's trees and protecting the conservation area.

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