Year 6’s went to All Saints Churchyard as part of their Forest School session last week to learn about hedge laying. Michael White, from Wealden Hedge Laying, is laying the hedge alongside the footpath through the churchyard which is on the route of our Welly Walk.
He explained that the style used here is the South of England style where the hedge is cut and laid over to create a double brush on both sides. This produces a good barrier to enclose livestock and creates habitats for wildlife. A single line of Hazel stakes are then driven into the centre of the hedge and long thin Hazel branches are woven between these to give strength to the hedge while it is re-growing. These are called binders and, along with the stakes, come from the hedge itself.
Michael then showed us the tools he uses to lay the hedge, many of which were very old, and we passed them around carefully as they were very sharp.
The tools included an axe to put points on the stakes, a froe to split the wood and different types of bill hooks.
Everyone tried their hand at trimming the binders using a bill hook and there was also an opportunity to weave some of the binders into the hedge.
Because our small school woodland is limited in its supply of sticks we then coppiced a Hazel tree using loppers and these branches, along with sticks surplus to Michael’s requirements, were then taken back to school.
The rest of the Forest School session was spent making mallets, bows and arrows and, of course, dens and also whittling projects using the fresh green Hazel wood.
We are very grateful to Michael and also thank you to All Saints Church for allowing us this fantastic opportunity and we hope to use the churchyard more often for other learning opportunities.