Hedge Britannia: A Curious History of a British Obsession by Hugh Barker - review by Tom Fort

Tom Fort

Privet Passions

Hedge Britannia: A Curious History of a British Obsession


Bloomsbury 327pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

We have hedges to the front, hedges to the back and hedges to the side. They are all laurel, that dull and dreary evergreen, and I dislike them all equally. The annual early winter cut is a frightful chore, hours wobbling on a stepladder swiping up and down and side to side with a great snarling beast of a machine, striving in vain to keep it all level and even. The only pleasure I’ve ever had doing it was razing one roof-high section and replacing it with a modest fence against which I have planted three old-fashioned English plums to make an espalier.

And all for what? So that order is maintained and our precious seclusion from whatever may be going on next door is preserved. As Hugh Barker observes in his engaging saunter around the subject of hedges and our relationship with them, we are caught up in a struggle with nature,

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Art of Darkness

Cambridge, Shakespeare

Follow Literary Review on Twitter