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Good Reads  Habitats & Ecosystems  Farmland Ecosystems

Hedgelands A Wild Wander around Britain's Greatest Habitat

By: Christopher Hart(Author), Jonathan Thomson(Co-Author)
206 pages, 8 plates with colour photos
Publisher: Chelsea Green
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  • Hedgelands ISBN: 9781915294197 Hardback Apr 2024 In stock
Price: £20.00
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

In this joyous journey around the wild edges of Britain, Christopher Hart takes us through the life, ecology and history of the humble British hedge, showing us how this much-loved (but somewhat overlooked) feature is inextricably woven into our language, history and culture.

Hedges – or hedgerows – have long been an integral part of the British landscape; a bastion of privacy for our gardens, a protective presence on winding country lanes and a vital hiding place for birds and beasts on farmland.

This man-made marvel is finally getting its time in the sun. Recognised as an environmental hero and a powerful climate ally, hedgerow is now considered the greatest edge habitat on earth, offering thorny scrub, mature woodland, grassland and even wetland. It plays a critical role in carbon sequestration and provides essential protection against the elements.

Hedgelands highlights the hawthorn and hazel of ancient hedges; the abundance of wildlife, from the elusive dunnock to the striking nightingale, the industrious hedgehog to the little harvest mouse; and the free pickings that the hedgerow offers, making it an essential – and delicious – element of any countryside ramble.

Hedgelands will tell you everything you never thought you needed to know about this wild, diverse and rich habitat – and you might even look at your humble hedge in a whole new way.

Customer Reviews


Christopher Hart has written ten novels published to date, both literary and historical, including Lost Children and Rescue Me, while his historical fiction, written under the pen name of William Napier, includes Julia, the best-selling Attila trilogy and the Last Crusaders trilogy. His work has been praised in both The Times Literary Supplement and the Sunday Sport. He has also published numerous short stories, essays and reviews, and has been a freelance journalist since the 1990s, for The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and others. He lives in Wiltshire, where he is rewilding seven acres and a hedge.

Jonathan Thomson has since 2014 co-owned and run a 25-acre rewilding project called Underhill Wood Nature Reserve in Wiltshire, where he has restored a hedge to its former glory through the practice of conservation hedge laying, a technique on which he is now advising the government for their hedgerow strategy. Jonathan is also involved with the John Muir Award for young people. He grew up on a small dairy farm in rural New Zealand, and the natural world has always played an important part in his life. Since living in the UK, his awareness of the need to protect, conserve and restore our squeezed and threatened native fauna and flora has grown more urgent.

By: Christopher Hart(Author), Jonathan Thomson(Co-Author)
206 pages, 8 plates with colour photos
Publisher: Chelsea Green
Media reviews

"A glorious anthem to the hedge! The sleeping giant that is waiting to be nurtured back to life-giving health. This wonderful book fires the imagination and will change the way you look at a hedge forever. And never was there a more urgent time to restore our degraded hedges into the lifelines they should be – for our beleaguered wildlife and for ourselves. Endlessly fascinating and teeming with 'Wow!'s. A must read for anyone who wants to help restore ecological health to our countryside."
– Keggie Carew, author of Beastly

"A hugely enjoyable ramble down the tangled green lanes of the beleaguered British countryside. Christopher Hart's investigations shine a new light on the humble hedgerow, in which all manner of solutions to our environmental problems can be found."
– Lee Schofield, author of Wild Fell

"This is a soaring love song to the hedge – not the straight-shorn sanitised garden hedges but the ancient hedgerows that heave with life. Hart is an enthusiastic guide to these beautiful, underestimated ecological niches, which not only provide habitats for birds, invertebrates and plants but are also carbon banks and food stores, and even supply ingredients for cocktails."
– Andrea Wulf, author of Magnificent Rebels

"We now know that if laid end to end, English hedges would stretch ten times around the earth. In Hedgelands, Christopher Hart has put his arms around the whole extraordinary network. He inspires us to see that the hedgerow is a national treasure even more important than we realised."
– Mark Cocker, author and naturalist

"Hedgelands is brilliant – fascinating, inspiring, important and extremely timely. It has taken my love and appreciation of our precious hedges to another level. Please buy it, read it and share it with everyone you know who has enough space to plant a hedge!"
– Brigit Strawbridge Howard, author of Dancing with Bees

"A wonderful history of the threads that stitch the British countryside together, Hedgelands provides a detailed description of the wonder of hedges and the vast array of species and benefits they provide for us."
– Jake Fiennes, author of Land Healer

"A lovely book on a really important subject. Passionate, personal and important. You won't ever look at a hedgerow in the same way again."
– Roger Morgan-Grenville, author of The Return of the Grey Partridge

"This deeply enjoyable book makes me want to go live in a mighty conservation hedge – or at least create one. Hart has delved deep into fascinating hedge etymology and history, and brings the joy of restoring a hedge to life. As an insect lover, I welcomed the stories of renewal, and abundance of insects and other wildlife. May many more hedges be created."
– Vicki Hird, author of Rebugging the Planet

"A passionate celebration and exploration of our wonderful hedgerows. You'll be swept along by Hart's intoxicating enthusiasm."
– Dave Goulson, author of Silent Earth

"At the Soil Association, we have long advocated for the reinstatement and proper care of that multifaceted boon to nature and farming, the hedgerow. With Christopher Hart's wonderful Hedgelands by your side, any farmer, conservationist or interested layperson will understand so much more about this extraordinary resource, and how to appreciate and care for it."
– Helen Browning, chief executive, Soil Association

"Hedgelands is a marvellous walk through a traditional European agroforestry system, complete with information on benefits to biodiversity, wild foods, carbon, climate resilience and more. Highly recommended."
– Eric Toensmeier, author of The Carbon Farming Solution

"We all love hedgerows, and we're all appalled that so many have been destroyed over the last century. But Hedgelands highlights another threat to these valuable linear oases – many of them are very poorly managed. For though they resemble a woodland edge, these are not natural habitats: they are man-made and have to be managed sensitively if they are to provide a good home for our birds and bees, hedgehogs and weeds. In this fascinating and insightful book, Christopher Hart brings to life the rich natural and cultural history of the hedge and makes a compelling case that they may indeed, as he says, be "Britain's greatest habitat"."
– Dr Charlie Gardner, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology

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