There’s a show on the BBC that I absolutely love, called Gardener’s World. It features Monty Don, who gardens a plot of land called Longmeadow. The garden is in Herefordshire, west of the Cotswolds. I can’t get this show on my TV, but every week some intrepid YouTuber puts it up on his channel. Invariably it is taken down within hours, as it of course is put up without permission. If I catch it just right, I can see the whole episode. I ALWAYS learn something. And I love looking at the gardens, both Longmeadow and the ones the hosts visit, and learning how different people do things.
In a recent episode, Monty was saying how they had had a lot of rain, and it caused all his border plants to flop into the paths, which caused anyone walking there to have soaked pants in seconds, and of course the plants were getting trampled. So he was using hurdles to prop them up, off the path. Ding ding ding, my brain was singing, this is what you need, Elizabeth! So of course I texted Dad immediately. “You have any of that French Broom laying about, from the garlic rack project?” and one thing led to another, with Dad taking a trip to a local open space, braving the thick stands of poison oak, chopping down more broom, and then making me five hurdles out of it.
I love ‘em and I could use another 20, honestly. I see endless uses for them. Originally these weren’t used in the garden, however. The UK have a long history with hurdles. They were used as a temporary pen for sheep, for shearing, or tagging, anytime the farmer needed to corral some livestock temporarily. They had to be lightweight so that the farmer could carry several at a time on his shoulder. They had to be flat for easy storage. They were often made from coppiced wood (another ancient term which no one uses anymore), which was a method of cutting down fast-growing trees to a certain height every year, using the cut wood for farm projects, and allowing the tree to regrow for the next year. Willow was a common wood used for this purpose, or hazel. Eventually the advent of modern sheep containment overtook these old ways of doing things, and folks used their old hurdles for garden fencing. Now artisans make them for high-end gardens, often woven, costing a whole lot of money.
I found an interesting website for the Heritage Crafts Association in Britain, whose President is HRH the Prince of Wales! The association explores all kinds of crafts in the history of the country, reports them alive and well or endangered (as hurdles are), and discusses the history of the items and any other interesting tidbits. If you’d like to read more about hurdles (and I think you should, it’s fascinating), you can see that website HERE.
Their mission statement reads “The Heritage Crafts Association supports the 2003 UNESCO Convention and its goal of safeguarding traditional craftsmanship by supporting the continuing transmission of knowledge and skills associated with traditional artisanry – to help ensure that crafts continue to be practiced within their communities, providing livelihoods to their makers and reflecting creativity and adaptation.”
I love this. I went down a very interesting rabbit hole looking at all the different traditional crafts that are endangered or the knowledge of creating them has become extinct.
On the more modern side of things, Dad created a series of YouTube videos to show how to make these,. If you’re looking for a summer project for your garden, you can find that series HERE. I imagine that there are lots of different kinds of wood or supplies that can be used to make these.