Manor Farm Hedgerow Crossing

Nov 9, 2023

The hedgerows that meet here form part of the backbone of the farm, as the hedges have been in place since before the land was surveyed for the Tithe Map in 1820 and are likely to date back much earlier.

The more ‘woody’ species you can find in one stretch of hedge, the older the hedgerow is likely to be. In this hedgerow, woody species include hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, oak, spindle and shrubby willows.

Hawthorn berries and blossom

Field Maple in bloom and fruiting

Hazel catkins and briar rosehips

Bramble and black bryony scramble through the hedge. As a reminder of the farm’s history of hop-growing, which ended in 1985, wild seedlings thrive in all the farm’s hedges. Male hop flowers, which deliver pollen appear early in summer, and the fruits, or cones, start to develop later in female plants. If you can find a hop cone in late summer, rub it between your fingers to smell the beer!

The hedges are wide and bushy. Thick vegetation at the base is habitat for many species of birds, mammals, and insects. Notable among the birds are yellowhammers, bullfinches and linnets. Like skylarks in the middle of the fields, many hedgerow birds nest near the ground so please keep dogs close to avoid disturbing the birds during the breeding season.

In the autumn, the hedgerows are used by migrating birds that feed on the berries and insects to fuel their long flights. Ring ouzels can sometimes be spotted foraging in them on their way south to winter in Morocco.

The land on the field side of the ditch next to the footpath is an extra-wide buffer strip to protect the watercourse against any inadvertent contamination running off the field.  A permanent sward stops heavy rain washing soil away, and the long grass and flowers in the area are good habitat for invertebrates, such as Gatekeeper butterflies.

Spindle berry showing the bright orange seeds.

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