Beech hedges are big here in Perthshire, or at any rate one of them is, at Meikleour. It’s 1/3rd of a mile long and over 100ft high. It gets trimmed once a decade (for which presumably they have to close the Perth-Blairgowrie road which it borders). I think it may be in the Guinness Book of Records. The beech hedges on the land adjoining us were never anything like this height, but even so they must still have been really high, as the second photograph demonstrates, with the trunks much too thick for a regular hedge. At some time the hedge must have been cut down to its present height, giving rise to hedges that are very wide and dense, and one can only see their structure at this time of year and on into the spring. It testifies to the extraordinary ability of beech to regrow, no matter what you do to it above the ground.
I have what was certainly once planted as a beech hedge, which has got completely out of hand, not just in the nine years that we have been here, but for a good long time before that. It is far from easy to get at, as it runs down a steep slope, but the time has come to take it in hand before it suppresses too much else. The photograph shows how it is spreading, though in fact it is the other side that needs curbing more than the side in the photograph. What I intend to do late this winter (after removing the dead Hebe which is beyond hope in the foreground) is to cut the tops, as high as I can reach from a ladder, and cut off all the branches along one side, close to the trunk (the other side from that shown in the photograph in fact). I shall give the hedge a good mulch and make sure it never runs short of water after that. Then the next February, I shall cut the other side in the same way. The result is bound to look fairly awful for a year or two, but I have high hopes that the hedge will thicken up and gradually come to be a real hedge again.