Hedgerows - natures larder
Fruits of the hedgerows
Look deeper, look harder
Once we look at what’s growing, we find that the hedgerow contains quite a larder! A free source of food – part of natures store cupboard. Rose-hips, Elder, Sloes, Haws, Hazelnuts, Chestnuts and of course the delicious Blackberry!
All can be gathered in season to make jams, preserves, cordials, soups – the list of foods is extensive. The second hyperlink is to a site with Hedgerow recipes – have a go!
Next time you are walking in the countryside, take a look at the hedgerow in more details; use Hooper’s rule to get an idea of its age and then wonder who else has walked by its rich diversity and treasures in the centuries before you.
How old is the hedgerow?
An English botanist Dr Max Hooper developed a way of dating a hedgerow. It’s a rule of thumb, but his research proved to be pretty accurate.
If you look at 30 yards of hedge, then count the number of plant species in it, roughly speaking one species equals one century. Thus if you count 5 species of plant in your 30 yard stretch, the hedge is estimated at 500 years old.
There is a web link below to an interesting article about this way of dating hedgerows. It can provide some fun for adults and children alike on country walks.
Take a second look
What do we see when we look at the hedgerows in the countryside? What are they?
Many were planted to keep animals in, to set boundaries for landowners or parishes; some are the remains of woodland long disappeared.
When you take the time to actually look at a hedge, you will find a variety of plants and animals living within it. Many have been in existence for centuries.
Jewels of the hedgerow
- Hedgerows | Woodlands.co.uk
Hooper's rule of dating hedgerows
- Hedgerow Recipes
A collection of old but favourite recipes using wild food.
- Hedgerow | Natural History Museum
Find out from the Natural History Museum's expert scientists about the species of plant and animal that inhabit our hedgerows and the threats that face them.