Privet Hedges

Huh? Who'd want to read about privet?

What on earth has the boring privet hedge got going for it, apart from feeding pet stick insects, or as the 21st century version of net curtains?

The common domestic privet is regarded by many as a posh pest, doing little for biodiversity. You won't find it on many urban greening weblists.  Privet's not even the best tree for topiary: box or yew are better.

You'd be surprised though how much wildlife does make use of hedgerows - any dense, well-established hedge.  Hedgehogs can travel around the countryside under their safe guard, and several species of birds love them too: especially in the city, where hedgerows are great protection from cats.

There aren't many hedgerows in the Meadows & the Links (the Council plans to add more). There are examples of traditional hedge species here and there (hawthorn, beech) but they've been grown as full-size individual trees.

There are only two large privet hedges in the park (around the tennis courts and the croquet club) plus a little bit of low privet hedging and some parterre on the Links at the foot of Whitehouse Loan.

The little Whitehouse Loan park hedging is undoubtedly the prettiest, even though it's kept down to only about two feet high. It's full of intertwining ivy, and sycamores have sprung up through it

as have sticky willy stalks this year, too.

The basis of a very attractive new holly and laurel hedge has however been planted along the old school building on Leamington Walk.

But several of the Meadows birds who like to prospect on the ground are often to be spotted on or under one of the park's few privet hedgerows. Below are a chaffinch, a redwing, two blackbirds and a dunnock all making use of the croquet club privet.

In 2016, a pair of dunnocks were nesting in one of the park's privet hedges, and one bird enthusiast was able to photograph their four beautiful blue eggs.

Can't spot the wee dunnock in the picture below?  Well, precisely :)