The Wildlife Hedge: INTRODUCTION

In previous posts we have looked at the difference, at least in horticultural terms, between hedgerows and hedges…
The idea that hedgerows are generally found delineating countryside roads and fields while hedges belong in gardens, parkland and other more manicured examples of our man-made landscape has much merit. Of course, though, any hedgerow is every bit as man-made as that run of Beech, Yew or Privet gracing your garden. More precisely (or less vaguely), a hedgerow is actually a specific type of hedge, as one definition has it: “a row of bushes forming a hedge, with the trees growing in it”.
Figures abound attesting to the loss of hedgerows and consequently of the unique wildlife habitat they afford – a rough consensus is that since 1900 over half have gone. The campaign to preserve what’s left and replant what’s disappeared has real momentum and today the biggest threat to hedgerows is no longer being dug up but neglect – unless a hedgerow is properly managed, it is only a matter of time before it returns to nature and becomes, at best, a row of trees.
So does the garden hedge have a role to play in the battle to restore lost habitats? Given that most garden hedges are – and will continue to be – grown with one or two species, can they really help bio-diversity? The answer is to both questions is a simple and categorical ‘yes’…