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Well after what seems like weeks and weeks of non-stop rain, I’m gardening again!

The water table is still high, but the rain has subsided to a light drizzle and the floods have abated enough to allow me to get a fork into the ground without turning it to mud. I’m back to a full slate of gardens and muddy knees.

This week I was tackling an out-of-control mixed hedge, containing hazel, conifers (not sure exactly what – it’s not a strong point of mine, but I think it’s some sort of cypress), and various assorted self-seeded things like ash saplings.

I’m all for mixed, aka wildlife hedges – I’ve got one at the end of my garden which is part adapted from what was already there and part encouraged by transplanting, say, a hawthorn sapling that self-seeded itself where it wasn’t wanted. But you do have to keep on top of them or, like most native species, they go mad.

Hazel in particular heads for the sky very quickly indeed. I’ve got one in my hedge which I keep under very strict control – any stems going in the wrong direction are snipped out right away. I let it grow well above the line of the hedge (I think it makes the hedge more interesting to have plants of different heights from time to time) but I do take out a few of the thickest and tallest branches each year. You can, of course, just shear over the top with hedge-clippers, which is a brutal sort of way of doing it but very effective in keeping it in bounds.

This one in my client’s garden, though, was about 50ft high, so that was rather out of the question. In the way that hazels do, it had multi-stemmed and several of the trunks were leaning quite heavily into the main garden. Well – I did the best I could, and pruned back the worst of it into the hedge line again. But in this case, as it’s quite a high hedge, I’ve advised the client to get a tree man in (gardeners aren’t qualified, insured, or brave enough, to tackle full-grown trees – it’s much better to get a proper arborist in). Hopefully s/he will curb the general skywards tendency and cut it back to just below the top line of the hedge – then it doesn’t matter if it sends up some thinner shoots, as I can keep them in a kind of pollard and make them behave themselves.

Sometimes situations just don’t comply with the textbooks, and you have to find your own way around.

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