Posted by: laurahct | 08/04/2018

“Hedge Detectives” on the farm

Most of Chesworth Farm’s hedges have been here for a very long time – how do we know this? By using historical maps and information from written records.

Can we show this “on-the-ground”? Recently our “Hedge Detectives” task group set off to age the hedge running alongside Occupation Road- featuring the Llama Lookout half way along and bordering enclosed Back Field.

They identified and counted trees and shrubs along a specified length and used a simple sum to estimate age. Their sums and the records approximately matched at about 1000 years old (give or take 300 years either side).

Many of our longer-established hedges are also beginning to show their age by the some of the flowering plants at their bases. For instance, we can find Dog’s Mercury – it loves shady conditions, making it an indicator of ancient woods and hedges.

Another couple of things the group found on their “rummage”: discarded hazelnut kernels gave an indicator of their predator by the way they had been opened and nibbled. A useful clue to mammal species on the farm. The detectives also found the microscopic eggs of rare Brown Hairstreak butterflies in the crook of Blackthorn twigs – the favourite food source for the caterpillars later in the year. And once spotted it became easier to see more.

There is a plan for a summer trip to look deeper into what our hedges have to offer in terms of flowering plants.

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