I am a practising hedgelayer and yoga teacher living in Wingrave between Aylesbury and Leighton Buzzard. Both my occupations started as hobbies so I have a very enjoyable working life doing things I love.
I have laid hundreds of hedges in the last 25 years or so, predominantly for private clients. I am a National Hedgelaying Society accredited hedgelaying contractor, number BLI001-060 and listed on the National Hedgelaying Society website. You can view and search images of my work over the last 23 years here, view my business clients here broken down by market sector and view the distances of hedge I have laid annually here. I have also taught hundreds of people hedgelaying over the years.
The styles I lay are Midland, South of England and increasingly Crop & Pleach which uses live stakes alternating ether side of the hedge for a stronger, cheaper, quicker and potentially taller result than most traditional styles.
I have had some success in hedgelaying competitions. Here are a couple of hedges I laid that won first prize in class:
Burwash Manor, 2010. Midland class, 1st prize
Burwash Manor, 2011. Midland class, 1st prize
I'm not interested in laying hedges just for the money and if your hedge isn't suitable I'll tell you. If it's not ready to lay I'll encourage you to wait until it is; most people will only have a given stretch of hedge laid once in their lifetime so why do it other than when the best result can be obtained?
Each September I cut my own stakes and binders from a local wood managed by the Greensand Trust which supports the site both financially and through coppice management of the habitat. Not only that, but it means that I get exactly the stakes and binders that I want.
I first tried hedgelaying in 1985 and by the late 1980s had decided that it was something that I wanted to do seriously at which point I obtained a formal chainsaw qualification from the NPTC. From the early 1990s I started laying hedges on my own for clients and gradually built up a fledgling business whilst continuing to work in Information Technology. In 2000 I took voluntary redundancy after 20 years at the same company.
As well as being able to spend more time hedgelaying, this also gave me the time to train as a yoga teacher, something I had been practising since 1995 and I teach 7 yoga classes most weeks. My yoga website is here.
My two occupations complement each other perfectly - one is year-round, the other seasonal, one is indoors the other outside, one is mostly solitary the other involves me meeting lots of people, the hedging allows me to commune with nature and the yoga with myself. The flexibility and suppleness gained through yoga have also helped me avoid injuries and niggles from hedgelaying which is very physical work.
I have also talks about hedges and hedgelaying to Bedfordshire CPRE at their AGM, the Ampthill Rotary Club and the Bletchley Archaelogical and Historical Society and the Prestwood Gardening Society.