This’ll likely make me sound like a lunatic, but when I go abroad from the UK, hedgerows are one of the top 3 things I miss (the other two being beer and tea). They’re just so ubiquitous when travelling here, and they make the world feel a bit smaller.

As a wildlife photographer I probably take 75% of my photos of birds in hedges. I don’t have to camp out for hours - I just walk along the hedgerows aimlessly.

Also, if other countries don’t have hedges, what happens to the grotty pornography magazines that dwell natively in the hedgerows? Are they in some sort of meta-state of quasi-existence? A theoretical hedgerow porn mag?

Different regions of Britain have different styles of hedging and walling. For example "Devonshiring" is quite a distinctive mud bank with very dense hedging made up of a huge number of species. There will be a narrow or very narrow road running with hedges either side at around six to 12 foot high. My uncle's farm near Dartmouth (Devon!) is a good five miles through a lane that often brushes your wing mirrors on both sides simultaneously. Passing places are sporadic but usually less than 500 yards apart - often gate entrances.

On moorland, dry stone walling is the usual delimiter, see Bodmin (Cornwall), Dartmoor Exmoor, and heading up north - The Peaks in Derbyshire(ish), the Yorkshire Moors, etc and most of Cumbria and Northumberland.

One of the odd regions out is the New Forest (laid out about 1000 years back for King William I) This region famously isn't enclosed and is also mostly no longer forest too.

I've only covered England but Wales, Scotland and Ireland have their own varieties of land demarcation, mostly involving hedges of some sort unless moorland in which case stone is generally indicated in exposed areas but all are largely familiar to each other.

The article goes on about maintenance. Farmers fit a a device called a flail to the back of their tractors and trim the hedgerows after birds have fledged. They trundle along at around a slow walking pace. It can get a bit dicey driving in a lane in mid to late spring time because the overgrown hedges block your oncoming view.

My brain is apparently poisoned, I thought for sure this was about financial hedging, or maybe brexit as a hedge against the rest of Europe, or some other political-economy hot-take garbage.

Anyways, glad it's about plants. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

I grew up on a farm in east central Illinois in the 1950s and '60s and remember the hedgerows along the township gravel roads which were on a grid a mile on a side. There were pheasants and quail and I don't remember how many other species of birds; no doubt less than the hedges in Britain, but still considerable. I don't recall when the hedges were removed but I think in that area they were gone by the 1970s. What a loss! And only in one lifetime.
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I hate hedges. Selfishly.

It is great for animals and birds, probably good for farmers, but suck for people.

I live in South England, in Hampshire, in the South Downs, which is full of undulated countryside full of fields with hedges.

It is pretty. But also I never see any of it as the massive overgrown hedges blocks all views. And make it unnecessarily dark. I might as well live in a city or suburbia. Apart from in the winters when the leaves are gone it is bearable.

I have lived in other countries with none to minor fences by paths and roads. And I have also lived further north in England, in the Peak District, which use more stone/rock walls which are not that high. A drive or even better a bike ride is then wonderful. And not dangerous as you can can see when a car comes the other way round a sharp corner.

When the British colonised India they had an 1,100 mile long hedge to stop salt 'smugglers' (who were really just Indians trying to do their thing while being oppressed)



Worth watching the short video embedded in the article to get an idea of what these hegerows look like in practice. The illustration makes them look like standard manicured garden hedges rather than the reality of impenetrable intertwined masses of different species. [edited to fix a typo]
The video did not do a good job convincing me that hedges promote biodiversity. I’ve seen more than a badger, rabbit, fox, and mouse on the streets of Berlin in a single night.
One interesting thing is that traditionally English hedges were not trimmed, but woven. It was significantly more labor intensive, but resulted in a much stronger barrier.
Just found this by Oliver Rackham


“Social Forestry Network”

Hedges and Hedgerows Trees in Britain: A Thousand Years of Agroforestry


As a kid I lived in a small neighborhood in the small town of Montecito (adjacent to Santa Barbara) called The Hedgerow District. Some truly magnificent, towering hedges there.

Roughly here https://goo.gl/maps/ckkBszjTHqkqL25Z8

To frame this in a different way, how would woodland areas (or what the article is calling hedgerows) work before the Enclosure Movement? Would there have been more diversity? A different approach to agriculture?

I find this article a bit odd in it's approach (although supportive of more hedgerow area) and in inquiry of where the concept of hedgerows came from.

How unique is this to Britain? Do other countries have similar hedge density?
I knew a lot of farmers who managed to get rid of problem hedges during the height of the pandemic because local planning didn't respond within 42days when we had the first major lockdown.
what seems to be missed here maybe for some vague ideas of it being less "natural" is that every hedgerow that I've ever seen that is being used as a livestock barrier has a hefty dose of barbed wire preventing the livestock from going through. You can nail barbed wire right into trees and bushes and attach electric fences with screw on attachments right into trees. Works great. Still has all the benefits for nature but is much more practical from a farmer point of view.