Deakin’s ‘Wildwood’ pt. IX

Hazel is the most amenable to cutting and plashing, as though it has evolved into the habit. Hawthorn and ash are also pliable enough. The laid pleachers must always slope upwards. The river of sap will only flow uphill. Already, in February, the maple was so full of early-rising sap it wept copious tears when I cut it, the sap trickling down the pleated bark or splashing on to my boot. I tasted it optimistically, but, although a little sweet, it was also brackish, like human tears, and it was impossible not to think of all the sad times when my own tears, or those of loved ones, have run down my cheeks and I’ve licked them away. Impossible too not to imagine that the tree itself was mourning its own wound: this mutilation, subjugation to a human will.

– from the late Roger Deakin’s ‘Wildwood – A Journey through Trees’ (pp.356-7). (I love the words, plashing and pleacher.) I share Deakin’s appalled response to what he describes as ‘machine-flailed’ hedges. His perspective was that, if a hedge isn’t needed to contain animals,

neglect can often be the most enlightened policy. Most of my hedges are jungles of the various trees, draped with blackberry, dog-rose, bryony, honeysuckle and wild hop, all scrambling about the branches. Birds are highly attracted to this sort of cover, so the hedges are full of nests and birdsong. (p.362)


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