02 January 2012

Don't Fence Me In

In Connecticut, where I spent some of my formative years, the picket fence or split rail fence is part of the look. They run along the fronts of houses, separating them in a genteel way from the pavement, if there is one. But in the back yard, Americans want to be given the wide open spaces that they love, and the boundaries between neighbours can be very lax, only sometimes involving a fence. It might be something to do with the frontier. Here in Middle England we love our 12ft Leylandii hedges which mark out each householder's plot with a heavy hand and a deep shadow. So it is delightful to see handmade fences and laid hedges which are naturally decorative and may or may not be about ownership (not usually being attached to a house). There is nowhere better than a nature reserve to see a beautiful fence: the spindly ones act as a symbolic warning to humans, and the double thick impenetrable ones are intended for something else altogether.

A fence-hedge hybrid, not designed to deter animals.

A wild and deep hedge, minimally weaved. Kept together with stout vertical hazel poles, and clamped down with semi-circles of bent wood laid horizontally over the mass. Impenetrable to larger beasts while providing a shelter to smaller ones.
The hedge shown at the top (and above) is impossibly thick and impermanent, with twigs and branches thrown in between the struts in an untidy medieval mess. May be intended as a stop and shop for nesting birds.
And finally, as if heaven-sent, a piece of hand-made fence disguised as a gate, which doesn't open and leads nowhere and serves no purpose. It's a lovely thing.

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