Following the recent forum post and given the increasing demand from both private and commerical clients, (the latter as a result of the UK's ratification of the EC Landscape Convention). It is worth gathering information on the history and proper methodology of building these structures, which is relatively scant to the say the least. Certainly it is evident that both in Devon and Cornwall many of the walls which have been built recently, particularly the large scale, roadside and new housing estate structures, fail to meet the traditional and sustainable elements which make these structures so unique internationally. this is not the fault of the landscapers building the walls but a mammoth failure to understand the true heritage of these structures.

The structures are known to date back to neolithic periods. The reason was simple, using the stone, (or in many parts of Devon, where due to the geography and geology loose stones were rare and turf was used instead), which were spread across the landscape to create a boundary to enclose livestock. The walls over the years became more solid, additional smaller stone and waste material was added to create a core thus enabling higher walls. This meant that larger livestock could be farmed together with providing shelter or windbreaks for crops by minimilising the need for larger trees to be planted. And these walls were completely unique to particular areas, (up to only 30 years ago it was possible to drive around and discover not only the direct geology of an area, but also a good guess of the depth of top soil by simply looking at the hedges), differing dramatically in style in less than a kilometre. An example of this can be found easily on the North Coast of Cornwall, much smaller stones closer to the sea are freely available as such herringbone and vertical patterns were easily achieved. The very loose backfill material allowed for steeper sides also. Yet only 5 miles inland the rock changes to a different slate formation, much larger stones are then used and as such it is simpler to built the wall in the horizontal pattern. One area well worth seeing is the Mylor Bridge area, here many of the walls are constructed from the underlying quartz, which creates walls which when seen close up can sometimes reflect rainbow colours. The trees and growth on the walls was also distinctly different - as with native tree mixes in our ancient woodlands the mix of species on the walls changed dramatically.

Stiles had always been incorporated, but bee boles, milk urn shelves and underpasses started to be introduced more and more. Wildlife populations in these structures was high and the hedgerows started to act as motorways for wildlife. The list of species found in these hedges is almost as long as a list of UK fauna & flora.

There is considerable evidence that until recent history these walls were mainly built by women, and following the enclosure act, the landowners started to demand much more elaborate walls, which would illustrate their influence. As such many new walls were built in square cut granite and other intensive or imported materials - the death of the sustainable hedgerow started.

Now as you drive down the A30 there are miles and miles of uniformed 'Cornish hedge', built to a relatively new standard introduced, (even the tree mixes now recommended varies little throughout SW England). This is more attractive than fencing, one has to admit - but it takes no account of the differing areas of Devon and Cornwall, the varying heritage and most importantly is built using imported top soil, which is simply an extreme overkill and not good for the longevity of the hedge. Paradoxically the material removed for the necessary ditch operations is used elsewhere. As such the Cornish and Devonian Hedgerows are no longer the beautiful and unique feature they once were and its only the small scale stonewallers and the more insightful clients who are maintaining or constructing new walls in the traditional manner - stone from the local quarry or even from onsite - hedging mixes matching the ancient hedgrow species and styles incorporating from the outset habitats for beneficial wildlife species, but this is minimal against the destruction of these structures which has occured throughout the 20th century.

Cornish Garden Landscaping

 

Cornish Stone Walls

Stone Walling in Cornwall

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Landscape Juice Network to add comments!

Join Landscape Juice Network

Open forum activity

Gary RK replied to Gary @ Landscape Juice Network's discussion Directory of landscape/gardening/maintenance based software apps
"Adrian, this thread is probably not the place to start debating features, rather it will be just a directory - probably best to add your Post elsewhere, but I was in conversation with Service Autopilot a short while ago and received this response;…"
1 hour ago
1st Garden Maintenance replied to Gary @ Landscape Juice Network's discussion Directory of landscape/gardening/maintenance based software apps
"Many years ago we used to use Lawn Pro which is out of the US, apparently this has developed into a very good software and could be worth looking at. If you have less than 50 customer's it is free"
1 hour ago
1st Garden Maintenance replied to Gary @ Landscape Juice Network's discussion Directory of landscape/gardening/maintenance based software apps
"I Know jobber has advanced a lot since I first tried it about seven years ago, but has it caught up with Service Autopilot yet?
Does it have auto pricing of estimates, two way texting, two way emailing, automations that we can build, measure grounds…"
1 hour ago
Gary @ Landscape Juice Network commented on Angela Lambert's blog post New quoting service from Arbour Landscape Solutions
"@angela - I've tweaked it for you"
3 hours ago
Angela Lambert posted a blog post
Here's the link to the video - it's all about "My Bill of Quantities" a really speedy way to get a quote for landscaping materials.
3 hours ago
Nicholas Rymer updated their profile
4 hours ago
Nicholas Rymer updated their profile photo
5 hours ago
David Benson replied to OJH's discussion when do you cut hedges?
"must be a big alloment  We would love to get involved. Our inner-city allotment site has 32 miles of hedgerow! We've some replanting and restoration still to do #hedgerowandhabitats"
13 hours ago
David Benson replied to Peter sellers's discussion wheeled strimmer and pedestrian mower for very steep banks
"you need somthing like a spider mower they do one with a winch if the bank is that steep there is quite a lot of banking mowers available also the H&S is a thing to think about working on slopes/banks "
14 hours ago
Luke brooks replied to Adam Poole's discussion Does this sound like a really bad idea?
"I'd imagine if you call out the fire brigade every time they burn and complain of air quality they would soon make a case and deal with it 
good luck with it "
14 hours ago
David Benson replied to Adam Poole's discussion Does this sound like a really bad idea?
"fining him £100 its cheaper than a skip"
14 hours ago
Graeme Robinson replied to Brian's Garden Maintenance's discussion Baggers
"They are lucky to have them. Suggest to your client that they set up a camera. They are stunning creatures. I know they are painful for us gardeners but since we keep destroying their natural habitats what else is left? I say let them dig.
I have…"
15 hours ago
Graeme Robinson replied to Oliver clarkson's discussion Leather jackets.
"I have a chemical solution for chafer grubs but I have never used it as I am sure that it has been banned. Nematodes are probably the best solution. Chafer grubs are only an issue if there are a lot of them. Are you sure that this is the cause of…"
16 hours ago
Graeme Robinson replied to Peter Davis's discussion Lawn Moss
"Could you use lawn sand? I know it is still ferrous sulfate but it somehow feels like a gentler option."
16 hours ago
James Jones posted a discussion
Hi,I have my PA6 assessment this week.I have been practicing all weekend, I've got it into my head that I have got the depressurising the knapsack wrong.can anyone confirm, it's pull the trigger with the nozzle over a jug and then remove the SMV…
16 hours ago
Dave Colton replied to Adam Poole's discussion Does this sound like a really bad idea?
"Ring the fire brigade and report noxious fumes being blown into your house, they have to respond and will report incident to EA."
17 hours ago
More…

PA6 assessment

Hi,I have my PA6 assessment this week.I have been practicing all weekend, I've got it into my head that I have got the depressurising the knapsack wrong.can anyone confirm, it's pull the trigger with the nozzle over a jug and then remove the SMV…

Read more…
0 Replies
Views: 77