Lynsted with Kingsdown Society

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UPDATED: 13th August 2020

Millennium Hedge-laying

The Millennium Hedge Project began before the Society came into existence and was very much the idea of Lynsted Parish Council, drawing on a host of volunteers and working with our much-valued Norton and Lynsted Primary School. Planting List and Identification is below. Dr Bob Baxter has written an update to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Millennium hedge - below.

Looking back to the beginning of this project, it is astounding how a plain laneside (Cambridge Lane) has been enriched by the efforts of hardy individuals who first prepared the ground and planted the hedge, followed by those who learned to lay the hedge (with the support of this Society in 2008). The diversity of planting means that this hedge has evolved into a cheery seasonal display. The laying has created a stock-proof barrier that is supporting wildlife at the same time.

Anyone taking a stroll up Cambridge Lane will find a thriving hedge with plenty of new growth. I think it is fair to say that everyone involved had a good time, learnt a dying art and possibly made some new friends.

The people involved include some who had lived in Lynsted for donkeys years to others who have recently arrived and hardly unpacked their boxes. Some came from farther a field including our good friend Andy, from Ramsgate via Norton.

A lot of hard work and free time has been given to make this happen and I would like to thank Ken Diamond, Bob Baxter, Jenny and Graham Sargent, Kevin Barrett, Ken Northfield, Trish Murphy, Frank and Judith Oldham, Neil Anderson, Tom English, Andy McElevy, Kevin Castle, Jonathan Jackson, Tom, Ben and Emily Meek, Brian Pond, Len Scott, Martin Lewis and Jack, Robin and Mary Fielding, Nigel and Lis Heriz-Smith, Mike Hudson and finally John Flower the Master hedge layer who showed us the way. We hope we have not left anyone out but apologise if we have. The end result is something we can all be proud of.

The images, below, give a sense of how the project has transformed the lane.

20th Anniversary of the Millennium Hedge - Dr Bob Baxter

Lynsted's Hedge to Mark the Millennium thrives on.

The year 2020 is the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of Lynsted's Community Hedge for the Millennium. It continues to thrive as a lasting, living memorial.

Bob Baxter with the hedge in August 2020

The hedge today (2020) with the writer for scale.

John Jackson, Project leader, showing hedgelaying techniques

Hedge-laying project leader John Jackson demonstrates the trimming of a binder. Note in the background the posts, interwoven band of binders and pleached stems of existing hedge shrubs. Winter 2007/8.

Planting Group in 1997
Breaking ground, 1997. L to r: Martin Hall, Kentish Stour Countryside Project; Ian Baron; Graham Allen; Ray Clark, Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men, Lynsted Branch; Tom English, chairman, Lynsted Parish Council; the writer. Photo Kent Messenger Group.
Dedication of the Millenium Hedge
Barbara and Eddie Read with Tom English (and the plaque ready to unveil) at the Inauguration, May 2000.

The inauguration party, on a sunny 5th May, 2000, involved dances and singing by the children of Lynsted and Norton Primary School, the award of commemorative mugs to the children, a presentation to landowners Eddie and Barbara Read and the unveiling of a special plaque by the parish council chairman, Tom English. Members of the parish council, borough council and the local community enjoyed the event.

In fact the hedge mix had been planted back in 1997, so there could be something to inaugurate when 2000 actually arrived!

It was a Lynsted Parish Council initiative, with the writer the councillor nominated to coordinate matters. Guidance was provided by Martin Hall of the Stour Valley Countryside Project. Roy Taylor kindly dug a trench with his JCB and the Lynsted Branch of the Association of the Men of Kent and Kentish Men paid for the plants. Financial support was obtained from Kent Rural Community Council, Swale Borough Council and Shell Employee Action. The hedge was a standard mixture composed of species native to Kent, with the exception that hawthorn was replaced by blackthorn: hawthorn was not used in traditional orchard areas such as ours, since it could harbour and transmit the serious fire-blight disease of apple and pear trees. The shrub species included: blackthorn, dogwood, hazel, spindle, holly, field maple, dog rose, wayfaring tree, guelder-rose, gorse and broom. In addition, specimens of native trees, English (common) oak, hornbeam and ash, were planted at intervals along the hedge. In all 1315 specimens were planted by the children of Lynsted and Norton Primary School, their staff, and numerous members of the community.

The hedge has subsequently grown well. Its youthful exuberance was tamed in 2007, when the hedge was ten years old. Under the leadership of parishioner John Jackson, the hedge was subjected to a 'laying' . This operation was carried out under the auspices of the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society after a demonstration of the necessary techniques by hedge laying expert John Flower. Hedge laying is a traditional way of making a hedge tight, manageable and stockproof. About two thirds of the bulk of the hedge was cut down and removed. The remaining stems were partly cut through ('pleached') to allow them to be bent to 45 degrees and woven between wooden uprights ('posts') driven into the ground at half-metre intervals. The arrangement was stabilised by bands of overlapping hazel withies, or 'binders'. Stems to make these were kindly supplied by Kingsdown farmer Neil Anderson. These were trimmed to size and woven between the posts near their tops. About two dozen volunteers were involved over the winter's operation. By general agreement, our rural craftsman- (and craftwoman-)ship resulted in a rustic 'thing of great beauty'!

Since then the hedge has grown on, and remains in fine shape, thanks to the regular trimming arranged through Neil. All the species planted are still represented, although the proportions have changed. Where blackthorn was planted in largest numbers initially, specimens are now hard to find. Dogwood, however, has burgeoned, as has hazel. Specimens of all three tree species (eight in all) are now tall and strong. There are some dead branches on the ash, however. This might be an early sign of the deadly ash dieback disease, that, sadly, has destroyed swathes of this species elsewhere in the country, including Kent. I hope our trees are not infected; recent experience is indicating that ash trees in hedgerows are less likely to succumb than those massed in woodlands.

The dedication plaque at the eastern end of the Hedge needed to be removed while the current owners of the field, Malcolm and Carol, made changes to the field entrance. It has since been repositioned, in a more accessible spot, by Lynsted with Kingsdown parish councillor Clive Dawes and his wife Anne.

For those not familiar with the Hedge, it lies on the north side of Cambridge Lane. This is the first turning to the left when travelling towards Lynsted Village from the A2 junction at the Coop store. It is 170 metres long, begins 20 metres from the corner, and stretches to the entrance gate to the field. Post code ME9 9JB, or grid reference TQ 951618. There is a species list near the plaque at the field entrance. Come and have a look at your unique, living millennium marker!

Bob Baxter
RB 12.8.20

Millennium Hedge - Plant List

Lynsted's Community Hedge for the Millennium
SPECIES LIST Leaf Flower Fruit/ Seed Twig Bark
Prunus spinosa Blackthorn Leaf Blackthorn_flower Blackthorn Fruit - Sloes_jams_gin Blackthorn Twig Blackthorne bark
Dogwood Cornus sanguinea Dogwood_leaf Dogwood_flower Dogwood_berry_not_edible Dogwood twig Dogwood Bark
Hazel Corylus avellana Hazel Leaf and young shoot Hazel Flower - tiny inconspicuous Hazell Nut Hazel Twig Hazel Bark texture
Spindle Euonymus europaeus Spindle Leaf Spindle Flower Spindle Fruit - hermaphrodite Spindle twig and buds Spindle Bark - raise line of cork
Holly Ilex aquifolium Holly leaf - very spiney Holly Flowers Holly berries Holly twig Holly bark
Field maple Acer campestre Field Maple leaf Field Maple flowers Field_Maple_seed Field Maple twig Field Maple bark
Dog rose Rosa canina Dog Rose Leaf Dog Rose flower Dog Rose Fruit - Hips Dog Rose twig Dog Rose Bark and prickles
Wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana Wayfaring Tree leaf Wayfaring Tree Flower Wayfaring Tree Fruit Berries Wayfaring Tree Twig Wayfaring Tree Bark
Guelder-rose Vibernum opulus guelder rose leaf Guelder Rose Flower Guelder Rose Fruit berries Guelder Rose Twig and opposite buds Guelder Rose young bark
Gorse Ulex europaeus gorse foliage Gorse flower Gorse pods Gorse twig gorse bark
Broom Cytisus scoparius Broom Leaves - pea-like Broom Flowers Broom Seed Pods Broom Twigs winter Broom Bark
English oak Quercus robur Oak Leaf - quercus robur Oak Flowers Quercus robur oak acorns Oak Twig alternate buds Oak Bark granulated ridged
Hornbeam Carpinus betulus Hornbeam leaf Hornbeam Flowers/catkins Hornbeam seeds capsules helicopters Hornbeam twig Hornbeam bark
Ash Fraxinus excelsior Ash leaves Ash flowers Ash seeds helicopters Ash twig black buds Ash bark - grey smooth

Hedge planted: December 1997. Length 170m (184yd)