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

Shefford re-wilding volunteers hedge

An exciting re-wilding project has been launched at two locations within Hawthorne Way, Great Shefford 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.

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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