When we moved here 10 years or so ago, the hedges which surround our 3/4 acre plot, were about 6 feet high. You could easily add another 2 feet on to that for the growth they made each summer, which meant that by August they were untidy and very oppressive. Being so high they were a real pain to trim and although they offered good protection from the wind they did cut out a lot of light from both flower and vegetable gardens.

Over the years we have cut the hedges down to a more manageable level, and oh what a difference it has made. It has probably been the hardest work we’ve ever done, as we chose to use only hand loppers and secateurs, plus Peter’s “rack o’ th’eye” (a Yorkshire expression) but it was worth it. All our hard work has been rewarded by opening up the whole garden in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible. Now the light floods in and the view from the house and from the road is much improved.

A couple of years ago I was pottering about when a man walking along the lane stopped to admire the garden over the new low hedge, a thing he couldn’t have done 12 months earlier. We had a pleasant chat and he was most complimentary. I was however a little alarmed by his parting shot, namely that we could put a couple of static caravans into the field, and rent them out to holiday makers. To be honest we moved here for peace and quiet, so if I want holiday makers I’ll go to Skegness!

However, I digress. The hedges are made of hawthorn, definitely not my plant of choice. It has wicked spikes and prickles that play havoc with your hands, arms, clothes, wheelbarrow tyres, and even stick in your feet through shoes with the thickest soles. It is difficult and painful to handle, and a nightmare to dispose of particularly in the quantities we’ve had.

Burning is the only real option, but even that is sometimes easier said than done. Over the years I’ve had many near disasters, such as the time I accidentally set the compost heap on fire and was in danger of the flames spreading to our neighbours hedge and beyond. (Peter as ever saved the day.)

Then there was the time I had ‘words’ with my neighbour when my bonfire smoke was blowing on to her clean washing hanging on the line. Another time an unexpected and swift change in wind direction left me with singed eyelashes. All things considered though when I think about the amount of stuff I’ve burned over the years, I’m quite lucky that nothing worse has happened.