Like the hedges, my Blossom & Thorn project is in bloom now! Last weekend I led a guided walk along a section of the National Forest Way in Leicestershire. 14 of us (and one dog) explored several stretches of hedges in really varied condition. Some were closely clipped and others gone semi-wild, while others were entirely feral. Most of them had signs of old laying within them and we found a good variety of species including some unexpected like gooseberry!
The participants told me they had a lovely time, chatting with each other about their own nature enthusiasms and learning about hedges, fields, landscape history, trees and plants. It was a really fun experience for me to take others on my hedge walks as I do most of my hedge-spotting research walks by myself.
I’ve been exploring different parts of the National Forest Way for this project and have been to both places I know well and completely new routes. Last week I visited the Rosliston Forestry Centre, in the middle of the National Forest. The National Forest Way, the focus of this project, snakes around the site and into local fields and villages. I managed to visit on a beautiful sunny day and enjoyed a 3 mile walk with only a little bit of deep mud. I found my first old hedge immediately upon leaving the visitor centre (top left image below) and followed a line out into the village of Rosliston. This turned into a flourishing young hawthorn hedge around the churchyard with the remnant of a hedge opposite, one forming a green lane but now a stray hedge on an access road (top centre image).
I found some amazing old hedge trees turning into full sized ash trees (above left) and some fragments of hawthorn (centre) as well as some beautiful sheep and lovely spring hedge bottom plants like hedge mustard / garlic and bluebells.
I’ll be sharing more of my hedge discoveries, my sketchbook and plans for the artwork in the coming week for National Hedgerow Week.
In the meantime, please volunteer to share your hedge stories if you are near to the National Forest Way and can visit in the next few weeks before the end of May. Find out more here about taking part in this project. My project is supported by a National Forest Arts Grant.