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An overcast, but generally dry start to the day, back at Magham Down, site of a number of previous events. What was immediatly noticeable was the regrowth from the old competition hedge, it sat pretty dormant for over a year, which is why we didn't award a regrowth prize. A hot dry summer however did the trick and the thorn was transformed, most sections had regrowth of 3 feet ABOVE the binders, some of which had come from very low in the hedge.
Our regular cutters were all signed in and raring to go, but we only had 5 trainees. We decided to give each trainee a section and a trainer each, and divide the rest of the hedge between the regular cutters. Our trainees trickled in once we got started cutting, so Gary allocated them each to a separate cutter.
Our hedge was a little bigger than we we used to at this site, so many of us who didn't bring a chainsaw were either doning a lot of axe work, or getting a helping hand from the wise cutters.
The hedge went down quite quickly, and right on que Phil Hart arrived with stakes and binders
I was working next to David Dunk, who helped with some chainsaw work, and provided a master class on axe work. He manages to make it look so easy, although with a lot more practice I'm sure we can give him a run for his money.
A little earlier than expected the rain started, so Chris cheered up. Luckily most of us only had to finish the binders and trim up, so we just got wet rather than soaked.
All the sections were very respectable, this years trainees are picking it up well. Hopefully some of them will get the bug and continue cutting with us.
Big thanks ask always to Chris and Frank for arriving very early and putting out the signs, for Gary helping to organise everyone, and Phil for collecting stakes and binders. And of course to everyone who helped coppice; it's a critical part of hedge laying.
Pictures on google
HRH Patron’s Day at Gloucester on 24 November 2018
Once again top cutter Mike Bentley prevailed at the Invitational HRH Patrons day at Home Farm Tetbury, seeing off stiff competition from across the country.
The HRH Invitational event was a chance for a range of age and ability cutters to show off their skills to HRH, who talked to most cutters and presented certificates to the winners of each class.
Prince Charles is a hedgelaying enthusiast and patron of the National Hedgelaying Society. He talked to all cutters and appeared genuinely interested and knowledgeable. He did admit that his hedgelaying attempt did not always look pretty but was he was reassured that in 3 years time the hedge would grow back.
A number of regional styles were undertaken, on a planted hedge of mixed species and sizes, to give all a chance to do some decent cutting.
The event was put on by the National Hedgelaying Society and was in the main slickly done, apart from running out of binders, which were supplemented by some hastily gathered binders from a nearby coppice.
SEHLS were splendidly represented by Mike Bentley, Marcus Broome, Roberto Grilli, Graeme West, David Dunk, Peter Vaughn & Pat Farlaine. , Frank Wright, Matthew Beard, Mandy and Russell Woodham, along with Jarred and Tom from Plumpton College. Plus Franz and Lex from Holland. All got the hedge down in time and turned out some decent looking hedges.
If it is King Bentley, it should also be Saint Hart- Phil did an enormous amount of work both on the day, prior to the event and afterwards. Keeping a herd of novices on track is not easy and Phil did it with his usual professionalism and humour. The day after Phil did the Tool Sharpening course at Plumpton. The Society is so lucky to have a Chairman that leads by example in the promotion of hedgelaying and training.
With a forecast for torrential rain all day we had a really good turn out, so good we had to double up in places as we did not have a huge length of hedge to work with.
After the usual formality of signing on and sorting out who was working where the heavens opened, but much to Chris BC's disappointment it stopped after a few minutes.
The hedge was a mix of different species, and most of the plants were quite small, with just a few more "meaty" ones to work with. The frith pile was thus very small.
David Dunk fulfilled one of his ambitions and managed to pleach and remove the heal on a stem using just a penknife.
Most sections went down pretty quickly, and with nice sunny weather there was time for people to chat without getting soaked. Sadly Bob's truck broke down, but as he was in the cafe he called on the support of another diner and the stakes and binders were delivered in good time.
Because of the slightly sparse material we finished the hedge at 3'6" rather than the usual 4'
The landowner put on a stunning lunch of home reared pig, soup, cheese and bikkies, coffee and beer, good job most people had finished prior to lunch after that lot.
All in all a great day out, I reviewed my pictures and there is even one of Chris smiling
Pictures as always
Hope this works, just switching over to Google photo's as Flickr want to charge us (how very rude)
On a lovely autumnal day , Mike & Pat Parrott and Matthew Beard trimmed the hedge at Lindfield next to the bowls club .
The hedge was planted in 2007 by the Society, to mark the passing of David Marsden, a much loved Lindfield resident, postman and enthusiastic member and committee member of the Society.
It was also the last hedge laid by Ron Mouland. Ron was a stalwart of the society for many years .
It was great to see the established re-growth from heels and pleachers , which no doubt would have pleased David and Ron enormously.
Mike and Pat Parrott have been looking after the hedge for a number of years , but it is getting quite wide and tall , so the help from Matthew was appreciated.
David and Ron are sadly missed , but not forgotten
Who was Ron Mouland?
Ron Mouland and John Blake were both past Presidents of the society, John negotiated with the Lindfield Parish Council for the site of the memorial hedge and Ron laid it when it was too low really, the committee were worried the council might grub it out. The memorial hedge was the last hedge he laid, the way it has grown is testament to his skill.
Ron had been a member since the early days of the society, along with his Dad Fred, a great character and a knowledgeable countryman. Ron was a superb hedgelayer and came to all the society gatherings. He was a unanimous choice of President, he did not hold the post long due to cancer borne with his usual humour and bravery.
BBC report on the National Hedgelaying competition
Introduced by our very own Radio Star Phil Hart
Bushey Down Farm, Droxford in Hampshire on Sunday October 21 st 2018
Well third time lucky, after two aborted attempts to attend this show, SEHLS finally made it.
We were contacted early in 2018, to see if SEHLS wished to attend the event this year. With a hard
track all the way to a live hedge which was just over 30 mtrs long, a nice size and good condition, it
was an easy decision to make.
Next step was to start the planning for the event and get some assistance with laying the hedge.
The arrangements for the weekend were made, sorted out at the Bentley Wood Fair, and concluded
in the Hare & Hounds pub in Cowfold after Training Day 1.
The plan was for John, Frank and myself to do some hedge laying on the Saturday so that when the
visitors turned up on Sunday, they could see what a finished hedge would look like. Unfortunately
Frank’s van decided to break down on route so it left John and me to lay the first section of hedge in
the bright and warm October sunshine.
Our start was delayed as the farmer was having his first shoot of the season and the first drive was in
the neighbouring field, so we were able to admire the surrounding countryside in the autumn
By late afternoon, John and I had a section of the hedge down, staked and bound, so we decided
that it was a good time to leave.
Sunday was an early start and the previous day’s warmth meant that it was a foggy drive to the site;
thankfully I was able to give Frank a lift to the ploughing match, so we were back to full strength.
With the tables set up with all the paperwork and display material, and a welcome cuppa drunk, the
hedge was divided. John and I carried on from where we had left off on Saturday, Frank took the
next cant the other side of the large tree in the middle, then Mike took the next one, and Gywn &
Hans the last one. The hedge was just over 30mtrs in length so none of the cants was too long,
which was deliberate so that we would have the time to talk to visitors and show them what we
However, my wife Jo was doing a sterling job manning the table and explaining to the public what
hedge laying was all about, I guess her knowledge must have been gleaned from listening to me go
on about it. This was handy as it freed up Roger to help Gywn and Hans with their section of hedge
which was all hazel.
We had hardly got started and a couple of visiting hedge layers from Dorset turned up, it was good
to see Russell & Mandy Woodman, and thanks for their help on the day.
With such lovely weather, the crowds turned up; our hedge was close to the main arena and
catering wagons. This combined with quite a few announcements on the PA about the hedge laying
meant that most of the day there was a good crowd of people watching us working in the sun.
By lunchtime most of the hedge was down and after some refreshment it was the staking and
binding to do and tidying up; by mid-afternoon the hedge was finished.
The comments we received from the public were all positive, saying how nice it was see a real craft,
what a work of art it was and what a good job we had done, and the organisers seemed happy with
what we had done.
Hopefully we will have an invite back for 2019.
Thankyou to John French, Frank Wright, Mike Mason, Roger Ferrand, Gywn Alford, Jo Burchell Collins and Hans Taylor for their help over the weekend.
Pictures as always
Chris Burchell Collins
We arrived at Bolney in the warm (really) morning for the first training day of the season, and were immediately impressed with Franks first hedge of the season. We had a mix of plant species and most of the cants were perfect for the trainees, with some more interesting sections further down the field to entertain the more experienced cutters.
Phil sorted out the trainees with a trainer, and we set off.
There was not a huge amount of clearing out to be done, so we were able to launch in with the pleaching pretty quickly.
Everyone was progressing well but we realised that we were missing a vital component, the stakes and binders. Yes a communication breakdown. Many thanks to Phil, Chris and especially Roberto for collecting them from the coppice site.
Just as we started with popping the stakes in lunch was served, and a hearty and very meaty stew was produced.
I was happily finishing off my binders when Alan Ashby arrived and presented me with a "present" which turned out to be a hooky stick, yes he insisted I tried to remove the stake tops traditionally with a billhook not a silky.
Alan demonstrated the technique, which seemed straightforward. And just then Peter Tunks arrived with Phil Hart both keen to "advise" and "help".
Well I have to say that it's a lot harder than you think, when it goes well it's fast and neat, but the bulk of my attempts did not follow this plan (much to the amusement of my audience), and I managed to cut through the top binder a couple of times (funny how easy they were to cut). Personally I think we will have problems with this, especially on tough chestnut stakes.
Everyone managed to finish in pretty good time, and Peter Tunks decided to award a £5 prize for the best stake line, and this was awarded to Mike Mason's team of Andy Delves & Martin Cheesman
Pictures as always
A great day of hedge laying at the ploughing match today, the weather held out (just), and it was a great day for hand tools only
Loads of (brave) people practicing heal removal with the axe/billhook.
It was billed as a chainsaw free day, so sadly Clive was disqualified from the points because he fired up the old saw.
Well done to the winners, sadly the score sheet got drenched, so we only have the final results and positions
A good day’s coppicing was had by a loyal band of SEHLS members recently at Hurstpierpoint.The weather behaved itself until it started raining at lunchtime.
Although the hazel was slightly overstood, with lots of brushwood and cordwood being produced , we managed to extract 380 binders and 490 stakes, which will be used at Bentley Wood Fair( 27-29 September ) and Training Day 1 at Bolney on 13 October.
It was great that newcomers Guy and Jarred could attend- they stuck to the task well which will help them at TD1.
Given that over the season we will need between 2500-3000 each of stakes and binders for SEHLS events in the 2018/19 season, we still have a lot of material to gather. Although stakes and binders do grown on trees , they need a lot of effort to cut down , process and transport to where they are used.
Thanks must go to all those who attended:-Phil H, Frank, CBC,John,Bob, Peter,Rob, Matthew,Terry,Mike,Guy ,Jarred + 1 other
Hopefully more members will make the next coppicing event at Turners Hill on 24 November.
The team have been out already this year at Laughton and West Grinstead.
I don't have a match report for either, but I have the score sheet from Laughton (thanks David) and some pictures from West Grinstead (thanks Matthew).
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I visited Sissinghurst Castle Garden with my parents so decided to nip over to the Veg garden and see how the regrowth was getting on since our last visit.
And it's pretty impressive, the hedge has thickened up a treat, all be it in sort of clumps, which I think relates to the gappy nature of the hedge we started with, but even the mainly rose sections are re-growing. Of course hard to take a picture of, however close up you can see how the binders have long since been hidden away by pretty vigorous growth.
With a bit of trimming this is going to make a great wind break and will look stunning.
It's a shame that 99% of visitors will have no idea what we did, as it just looks like a big thick hedge.
You have probably noticed that battery powered chainsaws are becoming very popular, and rightly so as they are quiet and powerful, but which is best?
Phill has a lot of Makita 18v power tools and as a hobby hedge layer figured the Makita DUC353Z (which uses 2 18v batteries giving a 36v power tool) would be perfect as he already has the batteries and really didn't want another type of batteries
David is a already has Stihl power tool user so decided to add to his kit bag with an MSA 200 C a 36v power tool.
Looking at the Stihl it comes with a 14" bar with a nice small nose which is great for hedge laying as it can get into really small spaces, the chain is also very narrow. The Makita also comes with a 14" bar which is more parallel so the nose is much bigger, the chain is also wider. Both come as "body only" giving you have a choice of battery capacities and charger types.
We decided that for hedge laying the Stihl bar was a better shape because it is able to get into confined spaces, but of course you could swap the bar on the Makita if you wanted to.
Both saws weigh about the same in the real world (i.e. when you fill them oil and batteries), we didn't have some scales handy so this was a bit of a subjective test.
Both saws are very quiet in operation and neither provided noticeably more vibration
The Makita has an annoying "on" button, which must be pressed before it will operate, after about 10 seconds of inaction it has to be repressed, which in practical hedge laying use is just a bit to short so you are forever pressing it, the good news is that it is in easy reach of the trigger so just takes a bit of getting used to. Sensibly neither saw will operate if the chain brake is on.
Looking at the costs (inc. vat)
The tools on test (body only) cost £120 for the makita vs. £255 for the Stihl
For both you then need batteries and chargers
We didn't have a choice for this test, based on what we owned, the Makita was powered by 2 5Ah batteries (2x90Wh = 180Wh) costing about £120, and the Stihl with a single more powerful AP 300 battery (227Wh) at about £157
The Makita DC18RD will charge both 5Ah batteries in 45minutes, along with your phone, and costs about £50 (A cheaper single battery option is available for £30)
The Stihl AL500 will charge the AP 300 in 35minutes for £102, or the more economical Al300 will take 74 minutes and cost £60
Replacement chains are about £13 for each saw, and of course you still need chain oil
Thus the Makita comes in at around £280 for saw, battery and dual charger
The Stihl is £471 for high capacity battery and the slow charger or a whopping £514 if you want the faster charger
In (typical hedge laying) wet weather the Stihl battery box seems designed to collect water (does not even have a drain hole!), on one very wet day last season Marcus Broom turned his saw upside down to empty the rain out, but it was still working, with the Makita batteries sit on the outside of the machine the rain should be less of an issue, but realistically chainsaws will be used in the winter so it would be good to know from the manufacturers that we can use expensive kit outside.
So how long do these tools last before you need to change batteries?
For this test we had to work with what we had, and the Stihl had more juice available
David sponsored a couple of lengths of semi seasoned Chestnut which he cut in the winter. We decided on 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 inch diameter wood and set off cutting disks.
Both saws cut a very impressive pile of coasters and the results were an impressive 123 vs. 186 the Stihl with the larger battery capacity was a clear winner.
Which is best? Well both performed really well with the Stihl able to cut a lot more discs, however the Makita is significantly cheaper and in our test had a lower capacity battery.
In essence if you already own battery kit from either manufacturer you would be happy by adding either saw to your kit bag, which of course would mean you don't need to buy more batteries or chargers. If you have battery range anxiety then just buy some spares.
It would be interesting to test saws from other manufacturers or the higher capacity 6Ah batteries from Makita. we would also like to do a rainy day test, without the risk to our own kit.
Don't forget that you still need a certificate if you plan to operate any chainsaw unless you are on your own land. You can't yet do the training / test using a battery saw!
David Dunk, and Phill Piddell
Hedge management is a vital part of maintaining the High Weald's unique character. An integral part of the landscape, High Weald hedges are often historic and provide habitats for a wide range of wildlife.
While hedge management is an important land management activity, some of the methods - such as coppicing or hedge laying - can appear damaging or destructive to the untrained eye. Many hedges run along public rights of way, providing an excellent opportunity to educate the general public on these traditional countryside skills.
With this in mind, we have produced a hedge management information board for landowners across the High Weald to display near any works taking place on their land (see below). The board is designed to inform passers-by of the nature of the work being carried and why it is important for the conservation of the landscape, along with illustrations of different types of hedges.
The boards are currently being displayed at a number of hedge restoration projects across the High Weald, with lots of positive feed back from both landowners and hedge layers. If you are interested in receiving a board for use on your land, please contact our Land Managent Advisers: Ross Wingfield, firstname.lastname@example.org / 01424 725604 or Christine Meadows, email@example.com / 01424 723009.
“The Pleach Boys” European Hedgelaying Tour March 2018.
From the rolling South Downs of Sussex, through the White Cliffs of Dover, under the English Channel, to catch up with old friends & make new friends, we found the next site for the next “International hedgelaying Championship” in France.
Excellent hospitality, challenging hedges, flat open landscape, fencing with railway sleepers for intermediate fence posts, we started in the Polders, with open flat fields & plenty of drainage ditches, old windmills that were drainage pumps. Excellent cuisine, glorious sunrises 🌅 & stunning sunsets. The bikes had mud guards on.
Hay barns with raisable roofs, Lex Rouleveld’s birthday to celebrate, I found an old hay fork resting horizontally in my hedge, it must have been there for years, fantastic B & B at Jan & Corrie van Leeuwen, Langbroek plus 2 nights accomadation at Klooster Monastery in Boxmeer.
3 days training & demonstrating hedgelaying.
Great weekend at the Annual Boxmeer hedge laying championship with 47 teams & 5,000 plus visitors. Dave Truran was a clear leader in the “spitting the pea” competition at the “Hedgeland Games”.
Thank you to Dave Truran & Peter Tunks for contributing to a great trip. Phil Hart.
Devon style Competition report
A delegation from SEHLS visited the Blackdown Hills competition
The rain was drumming down on the marque, as we waited for the draw to take place, it was another one of Gary Moore’s famous hedgelaying “clearing up showers” in action. Today he was right, and as we progressed with the hedge laying, the sun tried to break through making pleasant working conditions.
We were in the marquee waiting for our steward Dick Fouler, he was waiting on the hedge line in the rain with a mobile office & food for a week. Being well organised, Dick kept us fully informed of time through out the day.
We started cutting at 9 45 through to 3 30pm, this included 30 mins of extra time, which was very welcome.
Gary got his first side down only to realise he was only half way as it was a double comb hedge. He powered through hedge side number 2 and was rewarded with 3rd prize.
There was a plethora of South of England cutters taking part, with David Dunk, Gary Moore, Geoff Pit & Phil Hart in the Intermediate class, Russell Woodham & Nigel Adams were competing in the Open class. Spectators included South of England cutter Tony Gallows, with seasoned South of England supporters Julie & Phill Hallam appearing & cheered us up with a barrow full of good humoured banter.
For me it was a good mental workout transferring the cutting & hedge building skills to the Devon style, as I had missed the training sessions, a big thank you to David Dunk, Gary Moore, Russel Woodham & George Pigeon for imparting skills & knowledge to bring together a successful weekend. It was a challenge to be climbing up & down a 5 foot bank, especially when you left a tool in the fIeld and you were stood on top of bank or worse still the other side of the hedge / bank.
A big thank you to Mandy Woodham for a fantastic stew on Friday evening plus a delicious coffee & walnut cake. Thank you to Richard Hooker & the Blackdown Hills Hedgelaying Association for making us welcome, a fantastic event with over 100 cutters taking part, in 4 classes, Novice pairs, Novice, Intermediate, & Open class. We were in the Intermediate class of 17 cutters. Great food was provided from the WI, there was a good range of trade stands, I managed to get away without buying another axe, while Gary came home with a large succulent coffee & walnut cake which somehow managed to survive all they way back to Sussex without being sampled. For the moment food science will have to go without that piece of important research.
Results sheet in the photos.