Saturday, 23 November 2013

A Tudor Fence

The Tudor Monastery Farm team: my heroine, a horse and them other two
     I was watching the new BBC programme, The Tudor Monastery Farm the other day.
          I was late to it, as I record everything I want to see, and then watch the recording.
          I keep strange hours. I'm  likely to be watching telly at 8-30 in the morning, and working at 10-30 at night.
          Anyway, there I was, watching the shennanigans on the Tudor Farm. (I love Ruth Goodman.) And they built a fence.
          Hmm, I went.
          Because I need to build a fence.
          I might have mentioned before how my garden went feral. My garden isn't extensive - a little patch in front and a slightly larger (and steep) patch at the back. I moved into this house in 2002, and for the first few years, I kept the undergrowth in check - although the rhubarb was ferocious, and would produce enormous leaves that shadowed everything else.
          But from 2007 through to 2009, my parents were ill, with first my mother dying, and then my father. So, for six years I've either not had the time or the heart to do much gardening.
          Experiments have been done which involved fencing off a four-foot square patch of downland, and then observing it. The fencing keeps the sheep and deer out, and, in that little square, The Ancient British Wood returns with surprising speed - first the briars and bushes, and then the saplings of the larger woodland trees.
My beech
        That's been happening, while I was looking away, in my back yard. There always was a hawthorn hedge at the back, between my patch and the neighbour's garden that backs onto it. The hedge is reaching its branches far over into my space now - and I have a beech tree up there! It's already well over seven foot tall, with one branch reaching for the sky.

         There's a fine crop of mushrooms up there too, growing on some rotten wood. I rather like the idea of having my own tiny wood at the top of the garden. Maybe fairies will move in.

My wood
          But I was talking about the fence. - There was a fence between my next door neighbour's garden and mine. Close against it, on my neighbour's side, grew a rowan. On my side, I had planted a mile-a-minute Montana clematis. Every spring, it raced up into into rowan and hawthorns, and was beautiful.
          It's this clematis and the rowan which worked together to pull down the fence. While I wasn't paying attention, the clematis wove and tied itself into a complicated net between all the trees, fence-posts and bushes nearby, and tugged and twisted the trees' branches down.
          It was already dragging at the fence and leaning on it - and then came a couple of winter's of heavy snowfalls. The weight of all that snow in the net of creeper and branches finally did for the fence. It also did for a bit of fence between my garden and the one above mine.
          So I needed to build a short stretch of fence - partly to keep out wandering dogs - and partly because the house above mine is empty at the moment, and I don't like there being a wide open passage through from the next street into my garden.
          I was hindered by having no practical knowledge of how to build a fence, and lacking the spare cash to pay somebody to do it for me.
          So I sat up and watched with keen interest when the Tudor Farm crew built their fences. They made two. One was a 'dead hedge' fence, or a 'laid hedge' which would be beyond me. I don't have the skill, or a hedge in the right place.
          But the other fence was, basically, a rough interweaving of cut branches and scrub. It was bulky, and not pretty, but effective. Ruth gleefully threw herself on it, and bounced off, to demonstrate how impenetrable it was.
          I've been - at last - tackling my overgrown garden. I have a lot more still to cut down - hawthorn and dogwood, and some branches from a climbing rose with particularly vicious thorns. There's huge amounts of old creeper, too. I wonder, I thought, if I can use all that to build a similar fence? (Thorns were highly recommended, as being especially discouraging.)
          So, this morning, I was up the garden, wellie boots on, armed with gardening gloves, a pair of clippers and a saw. (I shall have to get me an axe.)

          After a mere thirty minutes of work, I had the start of a pretty convincing fence. And a use for all those clippings I shall be creating over the next few weeks, as I chop down the dogwood and cut back the hawthorn.
         I came bouncing back into the kitchen feeling very pleased with myself. And with fingers and toes fairly burning from the cold.
          The BBC - entertaining and educating. Neighbour shall speak unto neighbour, over a brushwood fence.


madwippitt said...


And inside the barricade you can create a nature reserve! Make sure you leave a gap in the fence for travelling hedgehogs!

Joan Lennon said...

We need a continuing photo diary of this endeavour!

Susan Price said...

I'm with you on the nature reserve, Madwippet! Holes for hedgehogs there shall be, and rotting wood for mushrooms and insects, and little hidey-holes for bees. I hope to encourage the madly invasive violets rescued from my mother's garden to take over up there. - A photo-diary? No pressure, then!

Penny Dolan said...

Now that's heroic bit of hedge building! Especially if the frost hit you thid morning too. Also thanks for the tv info.Had missed that was on.

Susan Price said...

Oh I'm glad I was able to tell you of the Tudor Farm, Penny! - It's very good. I think Ruth Goodman should have her own programme on domestic detail through the ages. She also comes up with some fascinating little detail I'd never heard of.

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