The early March air is alive with the sounds chainsaws and shredders, as human beings prepare for spring. Got to get those hedges looking neat before the birds get any ideas. The sight of a newly-laid hedge in one lane after another gives an impression that the British countryside is being turned into a basket. Twisted rods of hazel run along the top, looking decorative while keeping the whole thing together.
Even if you are immune to the charms of baskets—is that possible?—you have to admit that a laid hedge is a wonderful coming together of nature and craftsmanship. Bending wood over sideways makes an impenetrable barrier to livestock while being hospitable to wildlife. A year’s growth will put paid to this rustic neatness, sadly, but the look can be replicated easily in your own garden, using twisted hoops of whatever comes your way.
Circles and posts are all you need for garden structures. The circles require more imagination than skill: the material can be gathered from fields, verges and your own garden. Lime tree suckers found on walks are perfect for making hoops. Last year’s apple tree growth works as well. Cornus, which you may be will cutting diligently to promote next winter’s colour, is ideal. If you need incentive to prune wisteria, think of harnessing the whippy growth to weave into a plant support.
Mix all or any of the above to make a colourful circle. Begin this process with two long rods tied together at one end, thick end butting up with thin end (willow gathered from the hedgerow should be long enough). Twist the two together to make a sturdy circle. Tie in two places for strength and then add whatever material you have by pushing in sharpened thicker ends and twisting round and round, tucking in the thinner ends.
Those people feeding branches into shredders should be very happy for you to save them some labour and carry some of it away. This morning I was the beneficiary of six long and straight-ish unidentified branches from a shrubbery down the road: they will become posts. (Be careful not to push willow posts into the ground unless you are looking for a “living” plant support).
Circles are tied between upright posts, to whatever size you desire. Once you have mastered a circle then you will be able to make wreaths as well, from whatever bendy materials you like the look of. Adding spring growth to a woven circle is easy enough: salute the vernal equinox.
Thanks for reading!