Estate hedge scheme could prove a winner

IN a fast-moving world where time is precious everything from microwave ready-meals to mobile phones have been designed to contribute to a hassle-free life.

IN a fast-moving world where time is precious everything from microwave ready-meals to mobile phones have been designed to contribute to a hassle-free life.

Today's society demands instant results, with pressures of work and busy home lives leaving many searching for time-cutting easy options and effort-saving solutions.

But seven years ago, innovative thinkers from a Suffolk farm spotted a gap in the booming convenience market – a gap which they have now filled with fully-developed, ready-grown hedgerows.

On Lord Iveagh's sprawling Elveden Estate, seven different varieties have been planted, tended and left to mature, and are now ready for transplantation straight to the backyard.

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The idea has been cultivated to give the gardens of those with more impatient green-fingers a fully-developed hedgerow, looking as though it has slowly established over a matter of years.

"I am particularly proud of the team work which has gone into this project," said Lord Iveagh.

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"This venture has arisen from an original idea from Tony Messant, a member of our woods team, with the whole department rallying round to make this diversification happen.

"The scheme has not been without its problems to solve, as with anything novel and new, but issues ranging from transportation to aftercare have all been resolved by the team. We have even gone to the lengths of having a special trailer built to transport the hedge. The team really has come up trumps.

"It was quite a brave project to pursue, as initially we did not know if this would work, or if it would be a financial disaster for us, but we now have a few kilometres of hedgerow every year to sell, and I think there is a huge market out there for it. Hopefully, all the hard work will pay off."

Seven varieties of hedgerow have been cultivated ready for sale, including laurel, yew, beach and holly, with the finished product stretching up to ten metres in length and two in height, weighing up to a massive one-and-a-half tonnes.

The scheme which is called Hedgeline, will be given a boost next week when it is officially launched at the Hampton Court Flower Show in London.

"We have faced numerous challenges in developing this innovation, and have come through to produce another Elveden trade mark product – a mature hedge available throughout the year," said Jim Rudderham, forestry, conservation and game manager at the estate. "There has never been anything like this before.

"At the moment, our main customers have been developers, who are building new homes and want a hedgerow alongside the properties which looks as if it has been there for 50 years. But we are keen to supply individuals as well, and recognise the market stretches to both ends of the spectrum.

"We are taking the impatience out of gardening. Instead, we are the ones who are showing patience, for as long as eight years in some cases, so we can supply them immediately after receiving an order."

For Lord Iveagh, famed for his love of the great outdoors, the benefits of the project stretch further than any commercial gain.

"There are such a lot of positives come from this, with benefits for wildlife from a natural growing hedge. It will also support other plants, animals and nesting birds, while giving back some of the oxygen we take from the air," he added. "It is a natural alternative to building a wall, which isn't eco-friendly.

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