Saturday, March 29, 2008

Big hedge

click photo to enlarge
"Love thy neighbour, yet pull not down thy hedge", Old English Proverb

The saying above has a French version: "Hedges between keep friendships green", and both echo the oft-quoted, "Good fences make good neighbours". That being the case, what are we to make of the hedge shown in today's photograph? Its function doesn't appear to be to encourage a proper neighbourliness, so much as banish everyone and everything from sight. Looking at its height and undulations, "hedge" seems be a misnomer for this edifice constructed out of rows of yew trees grown closely together, and clipped as one structure when their foliage met.

It can be found in the grounds of Ayscoughee Hall, Spalding, Lincolnshire. This building, erected as a house in the early 1400s, and given to the town in the early 1900s, is now a museum with public gardens. However, the hedge must date from its time as a private residence. Research shows the yew trees date from successive plantings, the oldest probably being eighteenth century. It is cut in a way that is fairly common in the grounds of large English country houses (and churchyards), and fulfils the purpose of dividing up the gardens, screening one section from another, acting as a wind-break, and providing a mountainous backdrop against which plants can be displayed. Oh, and it offers gardeners a scary few weeks teetering thirty feet up on ladders as they give it the annual cut!

Impressed by the oddness of this living barrier I decided to show something of its scale by including two people sitting on one of the nearby benches.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 108mm (216mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8.0
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On