A “Hedgerow” refers to a hedge and associated features such as trees and gates. Abbey Fields contains a number of hedgerows originally demarking individual plots of land. Hedges are a vital habitat for flora and fauna, providing shelter for wildlife and an abundance of food for birds, insects and mammals.
Did You Know?
There are 500,000 miles of hedgerow in the UK. Sadly, many hedgerows were removed from the 1950s onwards in an effort to increase agricultural efficiency.
Early in 2003, Friends of Abbey Fields asked Warwick District Council to leave a hedge uncut as part of our project to enhance the value of Abbey Fields for wildlife. The chosen hedge runs from the swimming pool bridge uphill to the war memorial and contains several species, including holly, elder and hawthorn. The hedge can now produce blossoms in spring and berries in autumn, which increases food availability for insects, butterflies, bees and birds. It also increases the number of potential bird nesting sites and becomes more attractive for human visitors.
In the autumn of 2003, we re-established sections of the ancient hedgerow from Forrest Road towards the swimming pool. With the support of Jon Holmes from Warwick District Council, Dave from Glendale and an army of volunteers, we replanted the gaps in the old hedge with native species: predominantly hawthorn, but also some oak, dog rose, privet and blackthorn, with the addition of a couple of small oaks which will eventually form substantial trees. Restoring this hedge, which will outlive all who helped plant it, will enhance the environment for wildlife and human visitors. Hedges provide shelter, food and nest sites for various fauna and flora, adding interest to the view. The following week, we returned to add a mulch of bark chippings to the hedge, which helped keep the moisture in the ground from evaporating and suppressed the weeds from smothering the new saplings. A fence was constructed to protect the young hedge. The Friends of Abbey Fields made a contribution of £100 towards the cost of the saplings.
In the autumn of 2004, under the watchful eye of Jon Holmes of the WDC, the Friends reinstated the hedge that runs along the border of Abbey Fields by Ford Cottage and alongside the pony paddock. WDC had already removed dead and decaying hedge plants, and we contributed £100 towards the new saplings. We planted the gaps in the hedge with hawthorn interspersed with hazel, wild dogwood, blackthorn, dog rose, spindle, field maple, and guelder rose. In all, we planted 575 saplings – a fantastic achievement. The weather was much kinder this time, and caps and jackets were soon discarded; it was hard work but well worth it!
In the Autumn of 2006, we again assisted the WDC in reinstating a hedge – this time the one running alongside the pathway from the Memorial to the Swimming Pool bridge. We had a good turnout of volunteers, meaning the work was completed in record time. Two gaps in the existing hedgerow were re-planted with “whips” and heavily mulched to contain moisture. Regrettably, six of the ten holly bushes included as “spot planting” were seen by somebody else who stole them within a week, either for resale or for their hedge. This was a particularly annoying theft, given the efforts to provide and plant them. The Friends of Abbey Fields contributed £100 towards the cost of the “whips” to Warwick District Council, which supervised the plantings. Thanks to all who helped; the results may be somewhat slow to realise but will be appreciated soon.
November 2007 saw us again assisting the WDC in restoring the upper part of the hedge from the Memorial pathway. The existing hedge was of inferior quality, mainly older, which had been cut down to ground level and removed earlier by the contractors. Under the capable supervision of Jon Holmes, we set about removing the ivy and other ground cover from around the remaining stumps. The ground was cleared to a distance of about two feet on either side of the stumps. It was interesting to see what came out of the hedgerow as it was being cleared, nothing of any archaeological worth (honest, we did not dig down that far!) but more than the expected beer can or bottle. The following Saturday saw the “gang” manfully digging holes for the new hedging – this was not easy as the existing roots had first to be removed. However, all went well and in good spirits, and before too long, the final mulch had been applied, and the area was made respectable again. We made a £1,000 contribution towards this work.
Again, in November 2008, we restored gaps in the hedgerow that we re-established in 2003. We were also delighted to arrange for Emmerson Press to plant an oak tree along this hedgerow as part of their environmental scheme. Again, we made a £1,000 contribution towards this work.
- Review the FOAF Newsletters that feature hedges