Hurdles or hedge-laying?

Traditional hedge-laying in Melplash

A hedge being laid near Melplash Court

CONSIDERING myself quite the chick from the sticks, the last thing I want to sound like is some Hunter-booted townie renting a West Country cottage for the weekend. But to my shame, in the last blog post I went and mixed up my hurdles with my hedges.

It’s pardonable, as elementary mistakes go. They kind of look the same. Both keep the peasants off one’s land and feature bits of stick woven around other bits of stick. So who’s to quibble?

Probably Prince Charles, as patron of the National Hedgelaying Society, for starters. Laying a hedge in the traditional way (as seen on my Melplash jaunt, above) prevents gaps caused by cattle and sheep leaning and pushing against them. It creates a wonderful habitat for wildlife and can withstand the elements for 50 years.

Hurdles (below) are more like a fence or decorative border, tightly-woven strips of willow, hazel or cherry twisted over at the ends to form square panels. They are not as sturdy as hedges, although traditional sheep hurdles are used for lambing pens.

See? Simples.

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