Local artist , and designer of the jacket for A Message from Martha, Carry Akroyd, once painted this hedge because it was so beautiful (see below).
But the actual hedge, last summer, looked more like this… (the left hand side)
I recently received this account from the owner of the hedge which clears up the mystery. By agreement, no names are mentioned.
The following is the true explanation of the sad demise of our once beautiful hedge on the Clopton to Thurning road. This also serves to put all the so-called knowledgeable people right. After a lifetime (50 + years, third generation) of responsible farming, and never having killed a hedge by cutting one ‘at the wrong time’, or spraying one with chemicals, it was with great shock and sadness to see the hedge in question start to die. It was at first a complete mystery to us. Eventually it came to light that the neighbouring farmer, when returning to his farm after spraying a field next to us in the Autumn of 2013, failed to fold the nearside boom of his sprayer up properly, nor turn his pump off, allowing chemical (Roundup) to be continually sprayed along a short bit of his hedge, but about 1 mile of ours on his left. When he eventually realised his error he pulled into our gateway at the end of the hedge, and sorted it all out, but of course it was too late, the damage was done. Of course this did not come to light until signs of the hedge dying became obvious the following year (2014). We are having to wait until this spring (2015) to see what happens, as there is a potential insurance claim.
To say we were upset at the possibility of losing such a lovely, mature hedge is an understatement. If it has to be replanted, it is a sad fact that, as it will take many, many years to grow into something substantial, we will not still be alive to see it mature, but at least future generations will.
Anyone who knows us knows that we are very conscientious about nature and wildlife and are very careful about such things, this is born out by the fact that there is a wonderful variety of birds, mammals etc on the farm, which I enjoy photographing day after day.
So, there we go. An accident; a sad accident by a local farmer. Mystery solved. I’ve agreed to go and look at the hedge again next spring and I’ll update you on the state of play. Fingers crossed for green shoots of recovery.