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.

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