Hedgerow lore

A lovely, old, tangly hedge is a man-made feature, but has now gone wild. But how old is it? Bill Oddie tells the formula for calculating this: if you take a 30 metre stretch of hedge, count the woody plants within it and multiply by 100 then you'll be able to tell what the age of the hedge is. This one has dead elms, oak, ash, holly... so it must be at least 500 or 600 years old. There are also may blossoms - hawthorn in bloom. The main plant of many hedges was hawthorn because they grew quickly, hence their alternative name 'quickthorn'. Hawthorn wood also provides the hottest heat of any wood burning fire. Hawthorn flowers were used in wedding bouquets and to summon the goddess of wind and wisdom, Maia. It was also thought that if you chopped a hawthorn down without good reason you'd have endless bad luck. The margins of the hedge have brambles and masses of wildflowers - bush vetch, red campion and ground ivy.

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