Posted 27 January 2018
Don't hedge your bets
Have you noticed our Cornish hedges? They are a special part of our heritage; in fact they count as historical monuments, and you'll soon meet them when you visit the Roseland Peninsula on holiday. Drive the narrow lanes with care, not only because of who you might meet round the next corner but also because if you scrape a Cornish hedge with your car you'll discover that under the greenery it's an earth bank that's been faced with stone. Ouch!
On a practical level they enclose fields and provide shelter for animals and plants - or indeed for walkers needing a good picnic spot. Another key function is that the plants growing on them often provide nutrients for grazing animals that grass doesn't. They help stop water running off the fields onto the lanes and provide year-round havens for wildlife, while in spring and summer you'll find them full of wild flowers and truly delightful. Visitors to Cornwall might mistake a new Cornish hedge, or one that's only covered in moss and lichen, for a stone wall - but it's most definitely a hedge.
Their roots, if you'll pardon the pun, go back thousands of years to Neolithic times. Many date from the Bronze and Iron Ages and you can often identify the oldest ones by their wiggly lines; some offer clues to the layout of ancient landscapes and farming traditions. Building and maintaining Cornish hedges is a traditional and very important skill, and you'll often find craftspeople demonstrating it at country shows such as Stithians, which is an easy trip from St Mawes, or the Royal Cornwall - worth an annual visit in itself. I always love watching and listening to these people as they are so skilled and knowledgeable.
Many cottage gardens will have a Cornish hedge as their boundary, so there's every chance you'll get to discover one close up on your holiday or short break. You're sure to find some in our lovely selection of country cottages so take a look at our website - book now, don't hedge your bets!