Bocage, windbreak, flowery, fruit, defensive, persistent … The hedge comes in all forms. Forgotten, the old hedges served the man in diversified tools, links, handles, tutors … Let us go to the discovery of these practical utilities, and within reach of the modern gardener.
The hedge and the peasant
A few decades ago, hedges crisscrossed the landscapes, bordered the plots, quartered the herds. Sources of biodiversity, water flow regulator, windbreaks, for generations they found place in the agricultural ecosystem. The peasants combined ecological interest and practical utility.
The branches “tadpoles”, trees cut, and recut, with thick and twisted trunk, were used as fodder. The bundles heated the bread ovens. The bouquets of flexible branches served as brooms. Most of the wooden tools were renewed along the edges of cultivated plots, from the simple tie to the pickaxe handle.
A piece of string
The gardener always needs a link, piece of string, raffia, copper wire … A tomato to tie, a climber to guide, two stakes to tie, and the search for a link begins. Pocket base ? No. Go home? For a branch … And the hedge, at the edge of the garden, within easy reach?
Les solar osiers, pruned near the short trunk, emitted young shoots, long, thin and flexible. They turn without bending, without breaking, and can tie, bind. The wicker has always followed the vine, an ancient link between winegrowers.
Other shrubs from the hedge were used as a tie, then as a braiding for basketry. Baskets, hats, trellises, were designed, repaired, near blood dogwood, Vitex agnus-castus, viorne lantane, clematis…
The spade handle broke …
If the link is essential to the gardener, the handle is no less. Spade, binary, sarcler, crash … Any tool needs a handle, which always breaks at the wrong time. Sundays and holidays, the old hedge is still there. Yes ash was renowned for its flexibility, tenacity, country maple, less common, compact and homogeneous, was also used for any tool handle.
Mediterranean, renowned in its time for its properties equal to ash, the hackberry Outclasses it for its robustness and flexibility. Wood of all manufactures, stretchers, oars, axles, it was cultivated to produce forks. The suckers were trimmed and shaped to harvest the tool ready. Shrub warm regions, global warming encourages it to be included in any hedge plantation.
Less demanding in terms of mechanical properties, stakes are found on shrubs with straight branches, straight and vigorous shoots. Hazelnut will provide beautiful stems, reusable for several years if they are protected in winter. Thus giving the hedge time to regenerate.
Robinia, commonly named acacia, grows in beautiful vertical shoots, thorny but solid, durable.
Blood dogwood launches long branches, flexible in spring, then rigid, with easily branching branches. The longest stems will serve as stakes, stakes supporting large plants, climbers.
Another hedge shrub, with the hardest wood, and the tastiest berries, male dogwood. It was used as a wedge for splitting wood, harrow teeth, ladder rungs. His tutors are foolproof. The grandfathers found it of great interest …
Grandfathers and children
… And knew how to recognize reliable wood bearing the weight of years. The cane was harvested on the edge of the meadow. Dogwoods, but also serviceberry, hazelnut, were appreciated. Sometimes honeysuckle was involved, and his imprint left an elegant spiral on the wood. Male dogwood, so hard, also became javelin … For the pleasure of the children, who in the memories of their grandfathers, find l’if, laburnum and ash to make the bows, elderberry for whistles and blowpipes, boxwood for toys, buttons and spoons.
Maintain an old hedge, plant an all-purpose hedge, despite the readiness of the blackthorn to escape, of the bramble to go on prospecting, is a meeting. Spot the sleeves of her future grelinette, the flexible branch that will be used to repair his straw hat. Wrap the honeysuckle around Grandpa’s next cane. Prepare a long vine tutor. So many gestures of a different rhythm. And new plantings to do, for shrubs combining diversity, flowering, and practical uses.
Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.
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