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Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom
FSC Preston Montford has been an outdoor classroom since 1957 and is a Field Studies Council centre. We deliver curriculum related outdoor education by the experts; from pre-school to Masters level; for infants, school students, undergraduates and enquiring adults with an interest in the natural world. Courses for schools and individuals. A venue for others to use; with bed space for 130, catering facilities and 7 fully equipped teaching and meeting spaces.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What is a hedge?

Many of us walk or drive past hedges every day but seldom stop to appreciate their place in the landscape and the environment.  As part of the Growing Confidence (GC) project a group of young people spent a day focussing on hedges - exploring their importance as boundaries, shelters, habitats and food source for insects, birds, animals and people. They also learnt about their conservation and management and had a good as some practical tasks too

Hedges are a mini wood and can contain many different species of trees and shrubs.  If left unmanaged over time a hedge will become a line of trees.  Learning about the different species in a hedge is a challenge in winter when there are no leaves to give helpful clues as to the identity of the tree or shrub. With the expert help of John Handley the group learnt how to use the key in the FSC Guide to the identification of deciduous broad-leaved trees and shrubs in winter to identify twigs from hedges in the Preston Montford estate.

The group braved the cold and helped reinstate a boundary hedge at FSC Preston Montford learning how to plant the young hedge whips of hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, hazel and oak. 

Next was learning how to master the craft of hedgelaying using traditional billhooks. Ian Cheeseborough made it look so easy but the young people discovered it wasn’t quite as simple as it looked. Recently coppiced willow rods were stuck in the ground as practice stems so that everyone could learn how to pleach, make the angled cut, which enables the pleacher, cut stem, to be bent over - layed.

Once this technique was mastered then it was time to lay a section of hazel hedge.

Fiona summed the day up in one sentence ‘I really enjoyed learning how to pleach and using a key to identify winter twigs.’

About Growing Confidence 
Growing Confidence (GC) is a five year project giving young people the opportunity to discover more about wildlife and wild places and have fun learning skills in their local environment.
FSC Preston Montford is working together with Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Fordhall Community Land Initiative and The Plunkett Foundation to offer a wide range of inspiring opportunities for young people aged 11-25.

At FSC Preston Montford we are offering a varied programme of day and residential events and courses to support young people’s interest in the natural world and to help develop their knowledge and skills.

Our next GC event at FSC Preston Monford is Can you spot spring? on 18 March~you can find out more about it and the events offered by all project partners at

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