Genuine natural talents

In days gone by, if you wanted to enclose a meadow or your land, you could either build a fence out of expensive wood and with a great deal of hard work, or you could let the fence build itself - by planting a hedge. Species such as hawthorn, blackthorn or dog-rose are most suitable. Because of their thorns they were a reliable boundary for grazing areas because they were avoided by the livestock, unlike other shrubs.  But, above all, there were genuine all-round talents. Their hard wood could be used for tool handles or walking sticks, ink could be made from the bark of the hawthorn and blackthorn , and the vitamin-rich fruits could be used in many ways. The spectrum ranges from rose hip tea and oil,  hawthorn jelly, juices and sloe wine right up to a coffee substitute made from the hawthorn seeds. The petals, bark and fruits of the blackthorn and hawthorn are also frequently used in medicine for many complaints. Sometimes, you can see pollarded trees protruding from the hedges. This increased their potential uses even more, because pollarded willows supplied sought-after wood and, at the same time, provided shade for the landscape. Moreover, hedges were and are of great landscape importance. With their dense networks of roots, they effectively help to bind the soils and act as windbreaks. And, as is so often the case, it is not only humans who benefit from hedges. Many animal species find wonderful living conditions in near-natural hedges. The dense twigs offer protection for the nests of many shrub-nesting bird species, such as robins, dunnocks or warblers, at least as long as you don't get too close to them and they give up building their nest because they perceive a threat. Many insects that rely on blossom, such as wild bees and butterflies, find food here and other species, such as leaf beetles and spiders feel at home here, as do amphibians - e.g. the common toad that spends the winter here. Hedges also offer small mammals, such as weasels, field mice or hedgehogs a protected habitat and plenty of food. Decades ago, many hedges fell victim to land consolidation measures, where small-scale farming plots were swallowed up in large fields and grazing land. The invention of barbed wire also eradicated many hedges. And there's something else:  hedges that are no longer used and maintained by being cut regularly thin out over time. Then, only individual bushes or rows of trees remain. Today, we are once again involved in maintaining and replanting the ecologically valuable hedges. This guarantees important habitat for many species as well as enhancing the scenery.

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