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TJC Hedgerow Project: A Living Fence
by Ecology Action Staff

Hedgerow Book Cover

Years ago, we received a copy of the book Hedgerow (pictured aboas a gift from a friend. It is a lovely book with beautiful illustrations that struck a chord deep within us and inspired us to think about creating hedgerows in our own gardens.

Currently, we have standard fencing around our growing beds to exclude deer and other herbivorous animals which is effective, but ugly. Later this year we plan to act on our inspiration and embark on a new project: planting a hedgerow designed specifically for The Jeavons Center site along a segment of the existing fence, with the intent to achieve several objectives:

  • First, the hedgerow will act as a security fence, keeping out livestock, “passers-by,” and wildlife, specifically using deer-resistant plants.
  • Second, it will provide “snacks” for humans and animals alike, by incorporating a variety of fruiting vines and shrubs, as well as nuts. Food intended for wildlife will be arranged to grow on the “outside” of the hedge, and snacks intended for the gardeners on the “inside.” It will also serve the purpose of reintroducing some native plants to the site.
  • Third, after some years, it will provide coppicing material (harvested wood) for garden projects (tool handles, fence poles,) and possibly fuel.
  • Fourth, it will provide a seasonal rotation of texture and color, in order to bring more aesthetic appeal to the area than the existing fence.

The hedge will be comprised of a few rows of large shrubs and small trees, planted on five-foot centers or less, which will act as vertical “living fence posts” in the design. Blackberry brambles will be planted in between these vertical elements and woven in-between and through them, acting almost like a barbed-wire fence. One of the advantages of the blackberry bramble is that thorny stems from previous years, while not living or providing fruit any longer, still act as a physical barrier, complete with sharp-hooked thorns.

Using Hedgerow as an inspiration, EA Communications Director David Troxell used his extensive experience in landscape and garden design to plan our hedge. Plant material is now being sourced, and work is set to begin this fall installing the first section, with work being performed by our TJC Farmer-Teacher Trainer staff. To get them established, the new plantings will be irrigated by hand initially; when the rains start around October or November, we can let off of the supplemental irrigation. We hope to start double-digging in August. We are excited to keep you updated on the progress of this new project and can’t wait to taste our first hazelnuts!!


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