The typical Cornish hedge is a stone-faced earth hedgebank with bushes or trees growing along the top. It is called a “hedge”, never a “hedgerow” or “wall”.
As readers will know if they follow my posts, a Cornish hedge is never called a wall or a hedgerow, despite the fact that it is built from stone blocks and earth and often covered in native plants / grasses / brambles / nettles etc so that to the unwary it can look like a fairly soft hedgerow until you pull in too closely in your car to avoid oncoming traffic and realise that something very hard lurks underneath. Next time you are in Cornwall check out how many cars have scrapes along their sides or dented wing mirrors.
The Cornish hedge contributes to the distinctive field-pattern of the Cornish landscape, and form the county’s largest semi-natural wildlife habitat.
I have my own small Cornish hedge (about 7m) along one side of what I have named ‘the wild garden‘ at the rear of my property. This is a large gravelled area for parking and where the septic tank and soakaway is located as well as the oil tank. Pretty much a utility area. When we moved in 4 years ago the hedge was covered in grass, nettles, creeping buttercups, herb robert, weeds and brambles and I ignored it until last year when I decided to pretty it up a bit. Weeds were removed as best as possible when behind the fence is a totally overgrown part of the farmyard and my son helped build up one end that had collapsed. Then I planted several cuttings from my garden and sprinkled a packet of wildflower seeds and left it to see what happened.
So what is growing in my hedge? (Slight liberties taken here, though this is by no means the entire list)
Among many plants are Erigeron karvinskianus and Erigeron glaucus which I am hoping will find their way into the cracks and crevices. Origanum and Golden Marjoram which the bees are loving at the moment as they are in flower. Several Osteospermums that I would like to cover more of the stone, but which have been hidden by the ox-eye daisies. I also bought a couple of low-growing varieties of Persicaria but only one appears to have thrived and is nicely making its way down the front of the hedge. It has just come into flower. Blue and white borage has grown from seed, but I will remove this from the top of the hedge as it has long tap roots and could damage the structure. I don’t mind it growing at the base. The Oxeye daisies, Wild Carrot and Musk Mallow have come from the wildflower mix (probably not the best assortment although the wild carrot will probably stay). The ox-eye daisies would look better at the base of the hedge where some borage and musk mallow have seeded themselves. It is too invasive for the top of the hedge.
Whilst writing this post I came across a very useful and interesting document which explains all about the planting in a Cornish Hedge and how to create one in your garden. Reading this I realise that some of my ad-hoc planting needs to be removed and more native flowers added so as not to damage the structure of the ‘hedge’. I am currently pondering whether to plant some shrub roses or Fuchsia magellanica along the top.
Oh and if you were wondering, this is what it looked like in May 2018 before any renovation took place.
As always, if you want a peek over other people’s garden walls then please pop over to our host, the lovely Jon, AKA ‘The Propagator’ where you find links to many more wonderful garden enthusiasts from all over the world.
See here for the participant’s guide.