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An Overlooked Hedge 3 Jan 2022 (Notes from the North) They seem to prefer the taller hedges, / fieldfares...

They seem to prefer the taller hedges,

fieldfares, like the one with the apple tree

whose bulbous windfalls have been hollowed out

to leak a fleshy fragrance from the ground.

This lower hedgerow they seldom frequent:

 

once, it barred the household cow from common

pasture and commoner from the furlong,

unearthing fault-lines between the classes

as starkly as it split the open fields;

now, the developer’s tree specialist

 

has described it as well managed (meaning

it is repeatedly flayed and splintered

by machinery in the wrong season)

and minimally as hawthorn (meaning

it is species-poor and expendable).

 

Not only hawthorn, but elder and ash,

elm suckers, blackthorn, wild apple and rose,

bramble, ivy and nettles, all manner

of shelter, nutrition and residents—

two centuries or more of Hooper’s Law.


NP, January 2022

Note: Hooper’s Law states that when a hedge is known to be old, the number of certain tree species it contains in each of a series of samples of 30-metre stretches, averaged out, will indicate its age reasonably accurately—up to 100 years for each species. (Bramble, ivy and nettles would not count in the dating calculation.) 

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