Clockwise from top left of facing page
Many NHLS members continue cutting well into their eighties and compete regularly for the Supreme Champion Award. Prince Charles, the Patron of the NHLS and himself a competent hedge layer, takes in a competitor’s near-finished hedge. Points are awarded for effectiveness as a stock barrier, cutting and laying, tidiness of site and quality of finished hedge. Competitors have five hours to complete up to ten metres of hedge in their chosen regional style. Pleachers or stems are cut at an angle and need to be laid with some upward slant to allow the sap to rise through the plant. A competitor uses a spark hook, a type of billhook, to trim the top of the hedge and improve its overall appearance.