Cornish Hedges

Introducing a new Guest Writer

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my blog and how I see it working going forward. The blog can be a bit feast or famine depending on the silly season as I’m sure all my fellow gardening friends will know when the sun is out you can’t be stuck inside doing admin! I also feel that whilst I could talk about flowers and gardens all day and share pretty pictures of weddings with you, sometimes it nice to have a few other topics to add to the mix.

So, on the blog I’m thinking about sharing other things with you - I’ve just made a batch of rhubarb and vanilla jam using rhubarb grown by my lovely neighbour, Yoko, (by the way Yoko I owe you a jar sorry!!!). Bringing hints of the season into the blog with recipes is my aim and also sharing a bit more on what inspires me. I do fear it’s a little like a New Year’s resolution and by summer I may look back on this post and say…..what was I thinking!!! However, I’m sharing with you my want to do this, my ideal, my hope. We all know the reality might be something else but you never know the odd different blog post may appear and I hope you like it.

Another one of my grand plans to bring ‘Guest Writers’ to my blog and so I’m delighted to introduce you to Nina and her brilliant hedge calendar!


Becca x

Nina Maley

Nina Maley is a chartered landscape architect with over 10 years’ professional experience. She studied at Edinburgh College of Art graduating in 2008 with an MA(hons) in Landscape Architecture. She has worked for several well-respected design studios where she designed and delivered a diverse range of prestigious projects encompassing public spaces, city streets and parks across the UK and internationally.

Nina believes in the creation of landscapes that tell stories to evoke the history, geography and ecology of their context and reflect the communities who inhabit them. Through analysis and interpretation of site-specific information her work establishes a sense of place distilled through botanically rich planting and precise attention to detail.

Cornish Hedges by Nina Maley

Fern filled hedges by Holes in the World Studio

Fern filled hedges by Holes in the World Studio

The Japanese have bonsai, the Swiss have alpine rock gardens and the Cornish have hedges. Alike as tiny labours of love evolved over thousands of years through technique, patience and some subtle human intervention.

There are over 30,000 miles of Cornish hedge latticed across the county with the most historic dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, 2000 - 4000 years ago. While hedges old and new reflect a traditional craft of construction the hedgerow plants are as individual as the land they lie upon. If you are seeking inspiration for a naturalistic arrangement a walk along a hedge lined lane at any time of year is bound to deliver. The ancient seed bank has a well-practiced symphony of blossom, structure, colour and scent. (It is really the ultimate example of lasagne planting.)

The Cornish hedge could be looked at as a study of the Cornish landscape in miniature- of man and nature working in harmony to create a naturalistic and functional arrangement. An earth mound reinforced with stones collected locally and arranged with mind-bending precision. The hedge represents the underlying geology of its location- often slate or granite and winter months reveal the beauty of these structures. Like the Cornish peninsular itself the hedge creates its own microclimate. The north side is exposed to the harshest winds and coldest weather while the south side of the hedge is protected and sheltered- allowing delicate flowering species to thrive. Relatively small in stature they are rich in plant species and provide a habitat network for birds, pollinators and small animals. Small and light deciduous trees withstand heavy pruning and allow light to the lower hedgerow where smaller flowering shrubs, ferns and perennials find their place.

Cornish hedges cling to north coast cliffs with tamarisk, gorse and thrift, the deep creeks of the south coast hide delicate woodland flora from salt laden winds; bluebell, primrose and crab apple, while up on the moors tenacious hawthorns embrace the south-westerly winds their out-stretched limbs reminiscent of a punk rocker’s mohawk.

Cornish Hedge by Holes in the World Studio

Cornish Hedge by Holes in the World Studio

When I’m in Lostwithiel on my morning walk with Leo (the yellow Labrador) we usually walk up the Cott Road towards the Duchy wood and as any of you who have visited the Duchy Nursery will know it is lined with an ancient, narrow and impressively high hedge. I’ve watched the planting year come full circle along this lane and as I write this the spring buds and bulbs are bursting back into life - the birds are shamelessly flirting. My phone photo library is a good reminder that nature never disappoints- like a favourite song- it can play on repeat year in, year out and I will still take a photo of the first snowdrop, primrose and unfurling harts tongue fern. No doubt those bronze age hedge builders stopped to smell the bluebells too.

Do you have a patch of ground or walk that connects you to the seasons?

Walking down from Duchy by Holes in the World Studio

Walking down from Duchy by Holes in the World Studio

The Guild of Cornish Hedgers provides training to protect these cultural and environmental assets by promoting the craft of building hedges in the time old technique.

Cornish Hedge Spreadsheet