Hedge Planting For The Future

27th June 2019

Bondig Bank is a small patch of woodland on the banks of the Thames, a short walk upstream from the town of Marlow. The River Thames Society (RTS) wanted to improve the value of the site for wildlife and had several aims in mind to this end:

  • Create open mini meadow areas at either end of the site.
  • Improve the woodland flora.
  • Plant a hedge along the back of the site, to provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Over winter 2018/19 the National Trails Volunteers spent several days at this site, working in partnership with the RTS to improve their mini nature reserve.October and November saw the volunteer work parties clearing overgrown vegetation and brash from previous clearance work that was smothering the woodland floor. They also raised the crowns on the trees to allow more light down to the woodland floor. Wood from the clearances was either chipped (and there was a heroic effort by the volunteers to haul our small chipper down to the site by hand!) or left stacked in compact habitat piles.

Following on from this, in March 2019, the NT volunteers were back, planting around 600 2-year-old saplings, to create the 120m of new hedge. A mixture of species were selected to provide structure and a good source of food for wildlife: hawthorn, guilder rose, spindle, crab apple and field maple.

To give the plants the best chance of survival, extra care was taken with the planting - digging individual pits for each plant, rather than using the quicker but less effective ‘slot’ method which can be hard on the roots. A mulch matt was used to suppress weeds and retain moisture. This contains no plastic and over the following years will break down to leave nothing but nutrients in the soil.

This extra care has paid off – a follow up visit in late May shows the plants to be thriving, with all but 2 showing strong growth. It will take several years for the hedge to take shape, but we have created something that will hopefully last for centuries to come.

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Thames path Volunteers at Bondig Bank - Andy Mawer
Planting the hedge - Andy Mawer
Growing hedge - Andy Mawer