The Hickson Hedgerows: a re-wilding and community garden project in Great Shefford

An exciting re-wilding project at two locations within Hawthorne Way, Great Shefford is in memory of longtime village residents, Jean and Lister Hickson who lived in the village for over 30 years (and were involved with St Mary’s Church, local yoga, craft groups, tap dancing, gardening, bee keeping and tapestry stitching).

A community group has formed an agreement with West Berkshire Council, which owns the sites, and Great Shefford Parish Council to enhance these areas for the benefit of local people and wildlife.

These areas have had minimal care and maintenance since the surrounding properties were built in the mid 80’s and have only been mown periodically by West Berkshire Council contractors.

The project proposes to allow the grass to grow tall with mown pathways, to plant hedgerow plants and small trees, and create community plant borders giving residents the opportunity to plant and maintain gardens by contributing spare plants from their own gardens.

Please visit our facebook page for more details: facebook.com/HicksonHedgerows

JANUARY 2023 

On Saturday 7 January our lovely volunteers planted a native hedgerow around a portion of the balancing pond area on ‘The Green’ to create what is called an ecotone – an area of transition between habitats. They also have planted a number of fruit trees, apple, pear, greengage, plum and medlar in area currently know as ‘The Square’. Weather was very wet but at least we are confident the saplings were well watered in.  Many thanks again to George Dolling for 

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NOVEMBER NEWS

Good news this month as we received over 3,000 bulbs from the council in compensation for the accidental mowing of our area in July. With kind help from George Dolling, gardener at Manor House Farm (thanks to Penny for the introduction), we have planned the planting area and had a good day planting with community volunteers on 5 November at both locations in Hawthorne way. It was a dreadfully wet day but all in the ground, so hopefully it will look fab in the spring especially as there were 10 different varieties of bulbs.  

 

 

JULY NEWS

Hickson Hedgerows has been doing really well and all the children from under fives and the school attended in small groups (totalling nearly 100!) and enjoyed a visit to help make the Bug Hotel. They learned about the importance of bugs before being put to work, with each class having a separate floor to furnish, hence the signs for Robins, Owls, Kingfisher and Red Kites. The children loved the odd facts like bees having red, ginger or white bottoms and caterpillars having 12 eyes but only 6 legs and butterflies have most of their tastebuds on their feet!

Unfortunately on 6 July West Berks contractors rocked up and started mowing by mistake. Luckily a resident intervened and so only the grass at the square was cut but it was a shame as hedgehog poo had been seen in this area and the contractors mowed very close to the log pile which could be a potential home for them. 

Accidental Mowing July 2022
Accidental Mowing near Hedgehog Habitat July 2022

The organisers have received an apology from West Berks Countryside Office who is invesigating what happened.

They are hoping to receive compensation in the way of seeds to be sown for next year. They aren’t letting this set-back affect their passion to keep improving the habitat for the wildlife in the village.

MAY NEWS

Volunteers have been busy since February, attending a hedge laying workshop run by NEWT (Newbury Environment and Wildlife Team) and 75% of the hedgerow has now been laid. This involves partially cutting through and then bending the stems of a line of shrubs or small trees, near ground level, without breaking them, so as to encourage them to produce new growth from the base. This regenerates the hedge plants and creates a very solid heldge.

A small community garden has also been planted and ‘dead hedges’ have been created that create wildlife habitat from twigs and branches. Several trees have been planted including white flowering cherry blossom trees (‘Prunus Tai Haku’) supplied by West Berkshire Council and smaller whips donated by residents who applied to Woodland Trust and have received them free of charge.

In fact no money has been spent so far, as residents have donated equipment like safety goggles and hazard tape as well as their time.

In addition to the areas now looking less sad and neglected, residents have said how beneficial to has been to be involved in the project and how those working from home have enjoyed taking a break in a much-improved area.

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