In highlighting how Britain lost half its hedgerow network in only 75 years following the post-WWII move to modernise farming, a recent report from the Council for the Protection of Rural England points out how hedgerows can reduce climate warming by naturally helping to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere.
Hedgerows offer fields a needed balance, a wild river through human land that can soak up our excesses and give us a reservoir of food and fuel for lean times. They give your garden a third dimension, a vertical salad bar that middle-aged and elderly can reach with a minimum of back pain.
It made sense to me that that letting land “rest” would help rejuvenate it; in the wild, a plot of barren land will quickly be covered by a profusion of different species, which cover the ground, protect it from erosion by rain, bloom with many different flowers, bring many different pollinators, which feed different birds.
By hedgerow, I don’t mean the decorative evergreen sculptures I see in front of modern businesses, often a monoculture of invasive species. I mean lines of densely-planted trees – fast-growing breeds like willow, elder, hazel, birch, chestnut, pine, hawthorn, blackthorn and rowan – cut, folded and woven together into a wall of greenery.
You’d think you could walk the streets of an average residential neighborhood and see green infrastructure galore, including raingardens and bioswales, not to mention hedgerows. But no.
What is a domesticated yet wild landscape?
A settled landscape can be beautiful only in so far as it admits room for wild nature.