Rough around the hedges

It was beginning to resemble Sleeping Beauty’s not-so-enchanted forest of tangly thicket out there, in the ‘garden’.


all very well for jam and keeping out invaders

There are some fabulous stretches of hedgerow surrounding the land, providing habitats for all sorts of flora and fauna, but one component, namely the blackberry bush (Rubus fruticosa) is spreading like wildfire and threatening the other shrubs and trees.

In amongst these brambles are woody plants such as :-

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
  • Hazel (Coryllus avellana)
  • Oak (Quercus)
  • Quince (Cydonia oblonga)

Not to mention ex-elm trees, and climbing shrubs such as dog rose (Rosa canina), and traveller’s-joy (Clematis vitalba).

small copper butterfly on travellers joy flower

small copper butterfly on travellers joy flower

I’m all for letting nature take its course, but the rate of encroachment was becoming significant and it was time to intervene. Time for something more effective than a pair of sharp secateurs and stout leather gardening gloves – bring on the tractor mounted flail cutter.

Monsieur Debroussaillage has spent a good 4 hours noisily reclaiming the margins of the land, and clearing in between the old oak trees.

Before : line of contiguous vegetation

Before : line of contiguous vegetation

After : oaks and other trees stand alone

After : oaks and other trees stand alone


Let the Battle of the Ronces commence

Additionally, the so-called uncultivated pasture (aka Lower Miller Beck Fell),  was being invaded by acaia trees, which take hold at a phenomal pace. Another half days work for Monsieur D., and the field looks so inviting that we have started to talk about keeping sheep or goats again.

choked and overgrown

Before : choked and overgrown


After : neat and tidy

maybe one day?

maybe one day?

12 thoughts on “Rough around the hedges

    • The brambles are a real enemy – every year we try to tame them and beat them into submission, petit à petit. I’ve also noticed that where the field has been cleared down by the stream, the nettles are making an early bid for domination (aargh!).

      • I read somewhere that nettles are a sign of fertile land. It is either true or is meant to make you feel better when they grow up. Either way, you might want to bear it in mind.

      • And I will! Thanks for another top tip. Yes, I’m going to start off by making a batch as an activator for the compost heap – to give those grass cuttings, bean plants etc a bit of a boost, to speed up decomposition. Good stuff.

      • I’ve never done it myself. I think there is more to it than meets the eye. I read a booklet about it and I think there is a difference between fermenting the brew under controlled conditions and letting it rot, as often happens. It all seemed too complicated to me but I may try some day.

      • Andy (husband) did start off a bucket-load a few years ago, which we promptly forgot about. When we did find it many months later, it smelled foul, looked like it might be harbouring some new life forms and was discarded into the field (didn’t trust it). I will do some better background reading this time. Perhaps be more scientific – the old lab coat may have to come out again.

  1. Hello to Happicultrice. I do not know how many nettles you are talking of but I deliberately keep some patches in my garden. A couple of times during their growing season and when the weather is good for drying I cut off at ground level, pop them into the kind of bags you use in the washing machine for fine undies etc. In about 2 days they are totally crisp but still green and no longer sting. I roetzsch all the leaves off the stems. The stems go in my water butt to increase the strength of plant water along with some comfrey stems and leaves. The dried green leaves I store clean and dry. I use them very often on my dogs dinners as vegetable, sometimes I make nettle soup for us. I also make a nettle tea. If you have problems with stinging midges (the ones that wake you up at night with their warlike zooming!) If you drink a cup of nettle tea three of four times a week they will not bite you. Very useful if you have young children bothered by stinging insects. Also with this nettle-tea water I use when making jams and cough mixture with elderberries and other fruits and herbs. The taste will remain a bit nettlely in jams so don’t over use. My dogs love nettles and dandelion leaves through their food so that is a freebie that is good for them too. Hope this helps. Also if you want to keep goats at some point the hay with nettles in it is very welcome to them in the winter. bye for now and keep on beeing a happy apicoltrice

    • Hello Lindy,

      Uitstekende! Thanks for all the top tips. There are vast quantities of nettles in the garden – and it would be fab to turn them in to something useful. I did once think about making nettle tea, but was never confident that it would be sting-free. I will give it a go – and see if the dogs want to be used as guinea pigs first. As a child, a Sunday treat was to go to Heysham village and have a glass of Nettle Beer (exciting times) – more recently they had to change the name to Nettle Drink, cos it wasn’t beer at all.

      I do make Elderberry Rob – but have never thought of using nettle tea water – I’ll make a note on the recipe card.

      Since there are some new nettles just sprouting up, I’ll go and harvest some. Thanks again and I will keep you posted. Bye.

  2. Sorry, I’m on the side of the blackberry. The only pruning I’d been supportive of is if it was done by that lovely goat. Of course I’m all talk because I’m doing my own pruning and ripping of unwanted plants. Funny how much easier it is to love plants overrunning other’s space 🙂

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