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A tribute to a Welsh Hedgelayer

November 23, 2011,
Claire Montanaro

When I became guardian of this place where I live some eight years ago, as part of my efforts to create a wildlife sanctuary I planted hedgerows around and within the garden in order to encourage birds, insects and wild flowers, and with the intent of having them laid, or pleached, when they were big enough. To my great pleasure that time has come, and Gwynfr is here.

Gwynfr is a Welsh farmer whose family, like many in my area, has been working with the land for many generations. Not only is he a sheep farmer but he pleaches hedges, and he is laying my hedges now. From the time he could walk, with his brothers he watched and then helped his father and grandfather as they cut and wove the branches, learning how to look up at each tree to see where the sun fell upon them, seeing where a delicate cut or a vigorous slash was needed, watching for berries and late flowers to ensure they were preserved for winter birds and bees, encouraging new growth while creating a work of beauty using ancient skills employed by welshmen (the art differs from that used in other parts of Britain) for hundreds of years.

For me it was a busy day but I was with him when I could, watching with respect as he quickly and quietly moved along the hedgerows, working with the trees for the benefit of all. I learned much from him about the old ways and his love of the land was clear. "There is nothing better than working outside on a cold winter's day in this old valley", he said, "This is wonderful".

Gwynfr will be here all week, and by the time he goes the hedges will be as strong as fencing - for hedgerows are intended to divide fields and keep livestock out - with the branches latticed and pulled to provide roosting and nesting sites in the new thickness and cover, and the height and line carefully created to make a guiding compass line for the bats. They will look wonderful and will help the wildlife enormously. I am very grateful.


Claire Montanaro is a spiritual teacher, channel and blogger with special interest in esoteric philosophy and the world in transition. Loves nature and wildlife. Author of "Spiritual Wisdom”.

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