Bowthorpe Marshes – Hedgerow Maintenance

Friday 16th October 2015

On a cloudy and damp morning with rain threatening, we gathered at the side of the road in ‘Three score’ to work in the Bowthorpe marshes. In what had been marginal land on our last visit, was now a very large hole in the ground, sculptured by earthmoving machinery into a surface water overflow catchment area for the nearby housing development extension. In the process of carving this hole in the ground, the contractors had removed about 25 meters of hedge and fence which enclosed the marsh area. Today we were to replace this fence and plant new hedge plants.
This boundary reinstatement was necessary on two counts, firstly to redefine the marsh border and secondly to secure the area for the horses and ponies that roam freely on the marsh.

The two tasks needed two teams, one to plant the hedge and one to erect a fence.  As the groundwork contractors had already reinstated the original barbed wire fence so that the horses could not escape, our job was to put up a second fence behind the first with a 10 – 12 meter gap between them, into which space we would plant the hedge.  This is needed because without this barrier the horses would eat the new growth of the newly planted hedge.

Bowthorpe Marshes Oct 2015

The most complicated job for the day came at the end, after the planting and putting up the posts for the fence. The planting party firstly marked out the new hedge with canes (which would provide support for the saplings) in three rows, then got on with the work of digging in the new plants.  Raising the posts required a bit more energy but eventually both assignments were completed. This is when the complicated bit started. Matt (the Project Officer) had gone to another part of the marsh to assess work for another day and we had got to the point when we had to attach the barbed wire to the fence posts.  The wire has to be fixed in position under tension and this is done with the aid of a ‘’wire stretcher’ ’but fixing this to the wire is easier said than done. We had to put in place four strands of wire but we managed this process four different ways with several expletives (but none be me I hasten to add).

We did get rained on earlier in the day but as the day wore on the weather became a little drier and the mist and murk was blown away by a gentle breeze, so not a bad end to the day. The planting party got all their plants into the ground in three neat rows, which in a few years will produce a good thick hedge to provide shelter for some of the wild life across the marsh. So all in all, a good day at the marshes.

Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer