Perfection in Hedges

It’s reached that time of year again…  time for hedge cutting.  At present we have two teams of hedge cutters on the go, myself and the Assistant Head Gardener, who have just finished the lovely hornbeam hedge along Lime Walk and in the bottom of the Rose Garden, Helen and NT Academy student Jon are busy cutting the Yew.

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The crisp Yew Walk to the left, and the part-cut Rondel; seen from the tower

It is usual to have two gardening teams working on hedges at this time of year. Not only does it mean the many hedges areas are completed in good time, along with all the routine maintenance and projects the garden generates, but also to spread out the hedge cutting between the gardening team.

We start in July (once seasonal growth has finished and nesting birds have fledged) with the deciduous hornbeam hedges and then continue with Yew, Box and Holly, right the way through until late autumn, when winter work has become the priority.

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The cutters we’ve opted for over the years have been single sided (cutting blades) electric machines, powered by petrol fuelled generators. The main advantage for this choice of cutters above heavier duty two stokes alternatives, is their relatively light weight and precise finish, an important consideration when trimming hedges for long periods of time.

Each hedge in the garden has its own blueprint of instructions and measurements to follow. These plans are revised annually and are crucial to help us maintain the sharp architectural structures the hedges provide and prevent the straight lines and crisp corners becoming too eccentric and loose.

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The Rondel with guide lines and levels

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And so, to begin the hedge cutting process, the measurements and notes are followed before guide lines are placed. The sides are then cut, using plumb bobs to achieve the vertical lines, before moving on to the tops, again using lines if need be, to attain the required heights and levels. Someone recently asked if we used ‘Lasers’ to create the absolutely horizontal level tops… of course not. The good old fashioned spirit level is all that’s required… mind you, a good eye does help.

Jo (Gardener)

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