Unlike so many hedges we are called upon to lay, this had only been planted about nine years ago and had not yet become a line of small trees as so often happens.
Preparing for laying by trimming the surplus growth.
With the bulk of the preparation complete and laying in full swing, part of the group headed off to spend the hour before lunch clearing blackthorn which was in danger of overwhelming some shrubs including purging buckthorn, barberry and spindle.
Caterpillars of the Brimstone butterfly feed on the purging buckthorn, a plant as the name suggests once used for medicinal purposes. Barberry better known as berberis to gardeners, provides food for some moth larvae including the Barberry Carpet; once common much has been destroyed when it was found to harbour black rust a fungal disease of wheat. The berries of all three provide food for birds, the most striking being the pink and orange fruit of the spindle.
At lunch we were joined by Erica, one of two New Forest ponies grazing the meadow. The other, Myrtle, obviously had better things to do.
Created: Sunday, 24th December 2017
Photographs: Alan Stevens; David Hume; John Lerpiniere