Six on Saturday | A Cornish Hedge

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.

Six on Saturday

54 Comments

  1. Pit says:

    Ever so beautiful!

  2. susurrus says:

    Great to see the before and after. I was so happy to see this in my Reader today. Your version might be a little bit more gardeny than the norm, but to my eyes it looks all the nicer for it. Our stone walls often have some plants – foxgloves can perch on them and ferns and herb roberts – but they aren’t as pretty as yours.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is a bit gardeny I admit, but there are also ferns and herb robert and the shining geranium – though I tend to pull a lot of that out, forget me nots too. I just wanted to cover the soil tbh to stop the brambles and nettles, though there are some of those too hiding at the back! Hopefully it will have more of a natural look as it matures. Oh and a wild clematis which is impossible to get rid of!

      1. susurrus says:

        Gardeny is good, especially in a garden! I hadn’t heard the name shining geranium – that’s a good one. I’ll have to look out for those.

  3. Ann Mackay says:

    I bet the bees and other critters love your hedge…sounds like a paradise for them! (And very pretty too.)

    1. Heyjude says:

      Lots of crevices for bees and beetles that’s for sure!

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        A great wildlife sanctuary! 🙂

  4. Your hedge is looking very pretty. The stonework is so beautifully put together too. It looks so much better for being cleared back. It has the vibe of a rocky clifftop where low growing pink flowered plants combine with the lime green and yellow lichens growing on grey stone.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Mmm… I’d like to get some of that sea thrift growing on it. Might have more luck with honesty and red campion.

  5. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Your Cornish hedge is beautiful

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you! It should eventually take care of itself.

  6. Your hedge is lovely and it will be interesting for you to see how it changes year on year

    1. Heyjude says:

      Indeed. I already have some other wildflower seeds to scatter. See if they take. And the oxeye daisies need to come out.

  7. restlessjo says:

    Just who dubbed it a hedge in the first place? Some crackpot Cornish man? I’m sure you’ve explained this before but it’s potty to me. A hedge can’t be made of stone. It’s a drystone wall. And rather a pretty one 🙂 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ah, but it’s not a drystone wall you see as it is also made up with earth. The Yorkshire walls have no earth, just stone. Which is why nothing grows on them – well maybe moss and lichens. Here we have trees on top!

      1. restlessjo says:

        Ok, I concede, but who gave it such a daft name?🤔💕

        1. Heyjude says:

          “In Cornwall there are still about 30,000 miles of hedges, and over three-quarters of these are anciently established. The earliest Cornish hedges enclosed land for cereal crops during the Neolithic Age (4000-6000 years ago). Prehistoric farms were about 5-10 hectares, with fields about 0.1 ha for hand cultivation. Many hedges date from the Bronze and Iron Ages, 2000-4000 years ago, when Cornwall’s traditional pattern of landscape became widely established. Other hedges were built during Mediæval field rationalisations; more originated in the tin-and-copper industrial boom of the 18th and 19th centuries, when many of the heaths and uplands were re-enclosed. Hedges from all these times are still very visible in the landscape and in normal use.”

          I guess we have to go a long way back to know who decided they were hedges 🤣 They are extremely useful for wildlife and wildflowers.

        2. restlessjo says:

          Thanks, hon 🙂 🙂 There must be others around the world, but I can’t say I’ve noticed.

  8. rusty duck says:

    One of those dented wing mirrors is mine.
    I love the hedge. Erigeron glaucus is new to me this year and I’m loving it already. Good to see now what a neat (and floriferous) cushion it makes.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Erigeron glaucus grows very well here spreading every which way. On the sunnier wall it has already finished flowering.

  9. Graham says:

    I used to build Cornish hedges back in the day, including down in your area. Most were alongside road improvements, as a requirement of the contract. It certainly made me aware not to get to close to them when I was driving but, though they looked really nice when they were newly built, I did like how they grew over until the work was hidden completely.
    I like what you’ve done with your stretch of hedge. The after photos area great improvement. Also like the top photo with the space alien farm machinery monitoring developments!

  10. It looks so much nicer after your renovation. Doesn’t the erigeron make a pretty display.

Comments are closed.