At the heart of the Gower Hedgerow Hub is our community of Hedgerow Heroes, these are the landowners and volunteers who work with us.
Following early retirement from a career in computer science, Roger purchased 15 acres of fields across from his home on Gower, including over 1500m of hedgerows. So, Roger attended the Hedgerow Hub's 'Introduction to Hedgelaying' course to find out how to maintain them.
"I found the course really useful. I had a hedge which was full on top but looking very thin underneath. It was a great introduction to using the traditional hand tools, which I much prefer using as it gives me time to look closely and appreciate the work I have done. It's also good exercise, an opportunity to be outdoors watching wildlife and take time to reflect. I want to look after the wildlife and being able to maintain the hedgerows on my land will help do that."
Wanting to hone his new skills on some trickier hedges that were older and wilder - a bit like the ones on his own land, Roger then volunteered as a Hedgerow Hero. "Volunteering was a great experience, I had the opportunity to ask questions and experience what a professional hedge layer would do when faced with challenges. This gave me the confidence to tackle my own hedges that were in a bad way."
Roger then successfully laid 120m of hedges, plus thickened and trimmed an additional 300m of hedgerows on his land using traditional methods and tools.
Sarah is one of our Hedgerow Heroes, she contacted Gower Hedgerow Hub looking for help to restore an ancient hedge on her land that runs along the edge of a public footpath.
"When we bought an old barn and a 9 acre field at Wimblewood Ganol, it was with a view to planting woodland, creating ponds and doing everything we could to encourage biodiversity and support the natural world that has supported us for so long. We wanted a project for our later years, a legacy for our grandchildren and to contribute to the well-being of a part of the world that has meant so much to us.
"As part of this plan, we agreed with our neighbours, Catrin and Tim, that laying the boundary hedge would be a good start. It is 85 metres long and although there was evidence it had been laid before, it was clear that was a very long time ago as what we had was a line of standing trees on top of a beautiful stone bank. Some of these were Ash with evidence of die back and cover was dense with little light reaching the bank and field margin. It seemed a radical step to lay such mature trees but in the long term we knew it would stimulate the growth of a wide variety of plants and provide shelter for birds and small mammals.
"We contacted Helen Grey about potential funding and were delighted to receive funds from the Gower Society via the Hedgerow Hub to pay for the costs of laying the hedge. Our contribution to the project was 10 days of hard work with the support of friends and family to clear a path in the field for access, remove overhanging branches and fell or pay for the felling of any trees that couldn't be laid.
"One cold, slightly damp Saturday towards the end of February, Mark Davies and his team arrived with chainsaws and friends were there to help clear the brash and cut some of the larger wood. It was a really exciting and enjoyable day. Sustained by regular tea and coffee and a wonderful lunch of cawl in Catrin and Tim's cosy kitchen, the job was done. Four of them laid the whole 85 metres in six hours and the track, a public footpath, was cleared. We even had time for a well-earned beer at the end.
"It was quite a shock to see the laid hedge with just a few of the original trees looking thin and exposed but now, in mid-April, something different is emerging. Bluebells have appeared along the new path in the field and in the hedge, Hawthorn and Hazel are sprouting in the hedge and no doubt various forms of wildlife are taking up residence. We even gained the confidence to lay another smaller line of trees ourselves, although it took us a great deal longer!"
Do you want to be a Hedgerow Hero?
You can become a much-needed Hedgerow Hero by joining our volunteer sessions, or attending our training and public events.
Visit our Facebook page or our booking pages on www.ticketsource.co.uk/ThisIsGower to find out more. Alternatively, we're at the end of the phone if you have any further queries - we'd love to hear from you - 01792 636992.
Are you a landowner with hedges that need a bit of TLC? Or do you want to plant a new hedge on your land? We'd love to talk to you to see how we may be able to help.