Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Planting and care of pleached hedges
Pleached hedges are a cultural-historical practice of field fencing. This artisanal technique used to be widespread and popular in Europe. Working with natural materials, that technique is still of value for active cultural landscape management. Since that cultural form is in line with nature conservation objectives, the traditional craftsmanship has gained new relevance.
Facts & figures
Crucial date: throughout the year
Domains: traditional craftsmanship, rituals and festivals, social customs, knowledge and practice concerning nature and the universe
Where to find: all over Germany, mainly in Nieheim
Heimatverein Nieheim e.V.
In the Nieheim area, the technique of pleached hedging has survived until today. Every year, starting in the late winter and lasting till spring, the hedges are re-wattled. Willow trees provide the thin old willow branches needed for wattling.
Pleached hedges save timber and even act as a supplier of additional food. Younger hedges are also used to fence in grazing livestock. Functioning as living fences, therefore, they are predominantly found in landscapes dominated by pastoral agriculture. When barbed wire was introduced in the 20th century though, pleached hedges declined rapidly. They were replaced by wire fences, and knowledge of hedge technology fell more and more into oblivion.
Nonetheless do pleached hedges still fulfil a variety of functions: not only are they a simple fence, but they also provide shade for livestock, demarcate land from each other, provide fuel and timber as well as hazelnuts and fodder. "Nieheimer’s landscape of hedges" offers a piece of cultural history. For some years, wild hedges have been restored to update the visual landscape and to emphasize the versatility of these hedges. Today, it is a cultural form that impresses with its great ecological value for flora and fauna. Birds get new habitats; hedgehogs, rabbits, dormice or the dormouse and partridges find places to breed and nest. As part of annual activities in the region of Nieheim, interested parties, especially children and adolescents, have the opportunity to get to know weaving techniques in a hands-on manner.