Hedgerows run for hundreds of thousands of miles, but a lot have disappeared, due to modern farming methods. We have lost nearly all our wild nettles, clover and docks. Hedges were built to keep livestock safe in fields, but also capture carbon, which helps to reduce climate change. They can also protect wildlife from the wind, rain and sun – and many people use the fruits of the hedgerow to make blackberry jam, nettle soup and sloe gin. And of course, it’s where our little hedgehog got his name from!
A Natural History of the Hedgerow introduces you to a countryside bursting with blackberries, hazelnuts and sloes; home to oak and ash, field mice and butterflies. But as we dream of foraging for wayside nettles for soup, most are unaware how hedgerows have shaped our landscape and fellow species.
Most of our hedgerows are hundreds of years old, a few are thousands of years old. Farmers like hedgerows, as they stop the soil being blown away by the wind. Many creatures love hedgerow including butterflies, dormice, newts, newts and rare caterpillars also love hedgerows. You’ll also find pretty woodland flora including hawthorn, dog rose, bramble, honeysuckle, bluebells and hazel.
Hedgelink is a charity working to save our hedgerows. Also download Hedging, a practical handbook from The Conservation Volunteers that can teach you how to plant new hedges and restore neglected ones. Learn about the law, safety and tools. Or volunteer.
By Ash, Oak and Thorn is a breathtaking tale of the rich wild world, for children. Designed to inspire a love of the natural world and all its creatures, this is the ideal read for little environmentalists. Costa Award-shortlisted novelist and acclaimed nature writer Melissa Harrison introduces three tiny ancient beings (Moss, Burnet and Cumulus) who (once revered as Guardians of the Wild World) wake from winter hibernation, in their beloved ash tree home.
When it is destroyed, they set off on an adventure to find more of their kind. A journey which takes them first into the deep countryside, and then the heart of a city. Helped along the way by birds and animals, the trio search for a way to survive and thrive, in a precious yet disappearing world. A tale of disappearing wilderness that could not be more relevant in today’s environmental crisis, the tale is brought to life for children by three tiny, funny and eternal beings.
The Happy Hedgerow is a picture book to focus on this unique but overlooked habitat. It features stunning accurate depictions of plants and animals, with a strong conservation theme. An Old Oak stands amid his own beloved hedgerow, on the edge of a field. When the farmer gets rid of his friend Beech’s hedgerow, the Old Oak watches sadly, as it is destroyed. But hope is returned, when a new farmer comes to plant fresh saplings.
Remedies from The Hedgerow Apothecary
The Hedgerow Apothecary shows how to make delicious preserves, healing balms, soothing toddies and cures for colds with nature’s jewels (rosehips, elderberries and mugwort). Author Christine Iverson runs courses on foraging and remedies from hedgerow finds in Sussex.
Avoid herbs if pregnant/nursing or on medication, without permission from doctor. Do not use these herbs near pets or children.
Learn how to make:
- Delicious preserves
- Healing balms
- Soothing toddies
- Cures for colds (rosehip, elderberries, mugwort)
You’ll also find photographs to safely identify edible plants, advice on what’s available in each season, guidance on how to prepare and preserve your finds, and folklore and history on foraging.