Unfortunately it now turns out that the neighbours on the other side are starting to have difficulty getting past our hedge to their house, so action was required. Never buy a house with a huge expanse of hazel hedging, oh gentle reader. For hazel is a bounder and will begin as a a neat little thing, not much more than a living fence, and swiftly and with a single bound it will become a vast house-encircling tree. Although, actually, the hazel is more tolerable than other trees in some respects : it saws very easily when green, and has no prickles. Holly does not grow so fast, and occurs less often in the hedge, but it is a pain in the arse to cut, being prickly and made of a much more solid wood than hazel. I personally find the hawthorn, with its long woody spikes, more annoying, but there's not very much of that. Pp has formed a great loathing for holly,.
There are a couple of sycamores, one of which is so badly positioned, fast growing and impossible to get at to trim that I may break my usual rule and employ the nuclear option, the small box of stump and root killer which, embarrassingly, lives on a shelf in the utility room for those rare occasions when I have to admit that there is no feasibly organic approach short of explosives... (Are explosives organic? Maybe they aren't. I get the impression many gardeners never have to ask themselves this question. )
Usually, my favorite of the hedging trees is the ash, which is easy to cut and burns well green. "Ash burned wet or ash burned dry is a fire for a king to warm himself by". (I thought that was from Kipling but the internet seems to think it's from a poem by Celia Congreve. I suspect there are many versions of it).
However, this time around, the ash had got a bit out of hand. Well, a lot out of hand. There was this one ash tree which was hard to get at, being at the top of a bank on a wall, leaning over the lane, and because it was hard to get at, I hadn't touched it for years. So it had developed from a pointy 'must take the loppers to that' tuft of shoots into quite a big tree. The moral of this story is: tackle the hard bits first because they just get harder... We got a rope on it, and I sawed and Pp pulled to get it to come around and fall into the garden without bringing down the phone lines which had become much entwined with its upper twigs.
On the plus side, when it came down, it did not (Almost! But not quite! Not Quite is important! ) bring the telephone lines with it. But I came with it, and I fell off the tree and tumbled down the bank. And it fell into the hedge and squished our fence a bit. It's a good thing I have an amply-padded backside. Today I have a sore left arm and am covered in scratches.
There is more hedge to do, but we did remove a hell of a lot of it and I think we got almost all the big trees, so once my arm is better and we have dealt death to the badly-placed sycamore, it should be more of a matter of clipping away at things with secateurs than lots of sawing. We burned all the wood we took off too, which made the entire experience feel rather like a 7-hour attempt to live roleplay Orcs at Isengard. Oh, and Pp tells me he checked the fire at 3pm today and it's still burning, which means it has burned for about 29 hours...
On various occasions we have looked into trying to pay someone to do this stuff. Unfortunately because of the telephone wires, which are very close to the top of the hedge, its not really possible to get one of the big farming hedge trimmer gadgets onto the job. We have occasionally managed to get someone to come once to attack the hedges, but they tend to appear once and then mysteriously prove hard to get hold of, so it's back to the trusty bowsaws for us. (This sounds like I am asking if anyone can recommend a supply of serviceable orcs :-D ) I think maybe we should have tried to hire a tree surgeon for that one ashtree though.
I must buy a new bowsaw blade. The little curved saw that we got with the vouchers sent to us by Wickes as an apology for the mysteriously appearing doors has proved very nifty though. It's not quite as good as the big bowsaw for powering through tree, but it's ideal for odd branches that you can't quite reach properly and need to hook the saw over for maximum cuttingness.
I should have taken a before and after photo! Oh well. The apple tree that is just to the North of where the big ash loomed will be very pleased to be getting more light, I think.