National Hedgelaying Championships!

Paul has joined Hedgelayers from around the country today at the 2019 National Hedgelaying Championship and Countryside Event held at Pewsbury Hill Farm, Wiltshire.


As many of you will already be aware Paul is a four-time National Hedgelaying Champion and in 2015 was awarded Supreme Champion by the National Hedgelaying Society, the highest accolade you can receive in Hedgelaying! There are over 30+ cutting styles for Hedgelaying across the country and Paul is an expert when it comes to our regional South of England Style of cutting. However, this year Paul has challenged himself to compete for the second year running in the Midland Open class, The Midland style of Hedgelaying is known to be the most difficult of them all and he will be competing against 9 other highly experienced Hedgelayers. Unfortunately, I (Lorraine) am unable to attend this year but I hope you will join me in supporting Paul and wishing him all the best for this event. I hope to post updates on facebook and Instagram throughout the weekend!

Apparently the weather in Pewsbury is extremely blustery today, I hope this loo was empty when it fell over!


Below is a photo of the hedge that Paul will be laying and to be honest it doesn’t look that challenging compared to the recent hedges he has been working on! The photos in this post have all been sent to me this morning by Rebecca West who is there supporting her husband Graham who is competing in the South of England Intermediate class.


And there off …


The scoring system used by the National Hedgelaying Societies judges to mark the work undertaken by the hedgelayers is as follows:

Points are allocated as follows:

Cut & Pleach 35
Stake & Bind 25
Back of Hedge 20
General Appearance 20

The past two weeks Paul has been working on a commercial hedge near to our home in Redhill, he has chosen the Midland Bullock style for this hedge. The landowner has kindly provided a time-lapse YouTube video link showing the start of Paul’s work, I have shared this via our own YouTube Playlist. You will also see young Zac our first work experience lad learning how to add the Hazel binders, for his first day of work I am sure you will agree he has done a great job! Hedges & Hurdles YouTube Playlist

If you would like to join Paul for training in the South of England or Midland Style of Hedgelaying you can join one of our weekend Coppicing & Hedgelaying Training Courses. We run these courses once a month in Reigate, Surrey from October through to February. Learn more …




All Hallows Eve is nearly here!

Ghouls and boys, join us if you dare for a Halloween scare…

We’re calling all goblins, ghosts and creatures of the night!  Dress up if you like and give us a fright!

Just creep, float, crawl or hop and join us for a Halloween Workshop!

We will be running our morning and afternoon workshops during the October half term at the following locations:

  1. Friday 25th October (inset day for local schools): Priory Farm Nursery, South Nutfield
  2. Saturday 26th October: Birtley Woodland Art Space, Bramley, Guildford
  3. Tuesday 29th October: Blueberry Barn, Priory Farm, South Nutfield
  4. Wednesday 30th October: Blueberry Barn, Priory Farm, South Nutfield
  5. Thursday 31st October: Blueberry Barn, Priory Farm, South Nutfield



The real story behind the name “Halloween” started with the Christians. They called All Saints Day All Hallows or All Hallowmas, in Old English. The Celtics celebrated Samhain on October 31st, one day before All Saints Day, so they named the day All Hallows Eve. Further down the road, they changed it to Halloween. Ref: tlcnews

Hi everyone, I would just like to say thank you all for supporting our young business, it can be tough as a new start up and we really are grateful for the help you provide through your word of mouth recommendations and sharing of our posts on social media.

It has been an exciting year bringing my natural country crafts and skills workshops to picturesque locations acrosss Surrey and Sussex. As we head into Winter our workshop and training course focus changes to seasonal events such as Halloween and Christmas and also provides time for making commissioned products and planning all the events we have in mind for 2020!

A key focus for us during the Coppicing season (October through to March) is our two day Hedgelaying, Coppicing and Wattle Hurdle Making Courses available for those who are keen to challenge themselves or someone else to learn new (old) skills. Passing on our skills to others is so important to both Paul and I and we encourage you to come along and try these heritage skills for yourself. We undertake these courses at New Pond Farm, Reigate so if you are out walking over the weekend then do look out for Paul and his trainees. The dates and more information about these courses can be found in the links below:





We welcome the opportunity to create group events bespoke to your requirements, we have several locations for you to choose (more to announce in 2020) or depending on the activity we can come to you! We run experiences for private parties (adults or children), scouting and guiding, WI groups, Horticultural Societies, Corporate Team Building events and lots of themed workshops such as our “Hen In the Woods” events for Hen parties or just a group of friends wanting to have fun!

Contact Lorraine to discuss further


Thank you to all from Lorraine & Paul


Another great location for our growing business: Birtley Woodland Art’s Space!

We are delighted to announce our new collaboration with Ruth Wheeler a fellow Surrey Hills Enterprise member!


Hedges & Hurdles Country Skills & Crafts have been invited to run regular workshops and training courses at the new Woodland Art’s and Well Being Space on the Birtley Estate in Bramley, Guildford.

The aim for Ruth is to develop her existing space at Birtley house into an outdoor rustic community space. This will be a core hub for artists and craft makers alike but also for yoga teachers and wellness practitioners to use as a teaching space alongside her already established carving studio.

It is so important to teach heritage crafts, to pass on our knowledge and keep these skills alive. We use traditional materials, natural resources including Hazel and Willow to create our crafts. The majority of what we (Paul and Lorraine) use we coppice ourselves, with the help on occasions from volunteers! We can honestly say that our activities are environmentally beneficial and really help increase the biodiversity in the woodland environments where we work.

There is a clear synergy between our businesses and vision for the future and we look forward to helping Ruth realise her dream of creating a ‘nurturing woodland space’ for all.

We kick off our collaboration with a selection of Willow Craft Workshops for September:


Friday 13th September – Buy tickets for our Willow Hearts Workshop





Friday 13th September – Buy tickets for our Willow Dragonfly Workshop




Friday 13th September – Buy tickets for our Willow Bird Feeder Workshop





We will continue to add further dates for workshops in September and beyond and you can expect to see a varied selection of Wood Crafts for you to choose from. If you have any special requests for workshops or training courses then please make contact.

We’re calling all goblins, ghosts and creatures of the night! Dress up if you like and give us a fright!

Just creep, float, crawl or hop and join us for a Halloween Workshop!

Moving into October we will be running Halloween Workshops, these are either 90 minutes or half day workshops, take your pick. We have a selection of crafts for you to choose including Witches Broom Sticks, Pumpkin Carving and our special Halloween Spider Web Dream Catchers!



Saturday 26th October – Buy tickets for our Halloween Workshops


A busy month for August!

We are halfway through the month and have already delivered some very successful workshops including a Bushcraft Skills For Beginners Workshop; a Gruffalo Walking Stick Workshop & Picnic and early this week our second combined Obelisk and Wattle Hurdle Workshop at Sussex Prairies, Henfield.

In addition I (Lorraine) was delighted to be invited to run a private Willow Obelisk Workshop in a beautiful garden in Horsham. It was lovely to be around like-minded people and keen gardeners too!

This week I have another three workshops, this morning I am delivering a Mini-Obelisk Workshop followed by a woodland lunch prepared by the Salt Box at Priory Farm.

Wednesday I am back at Sussex Prairies, this time for my first Willow Craft Workshop which is now fully booked. We will be making Willow Dragonfly and Hearts, hopefully outside (weather permitting) and if not within their garden room, adjacent to the tea rooms where they offer the most delicious cakes to die for!

On Friday I am back at Priory Farm for both a morning and afternoon workshops. In the morning we will be making Willow Dragonfly and in the afternoon Willow Hearts so if you would like to join this relaxing, mindful workhsop we still have a few spaces available!

The remainder of August is mixed as I am taking a break for a few days next week to recharge my batteries before exhibiting over the Bank Holiday weekend at the Edenbridge & Oxted County Show, this is one of our favourite shows of the year and well worth a visit!

The final week of August is again full of various workshops:

Tuesday 27th August – 10:00 p.m. – Willow Fish Workshop

Tuesday 27th August – 2:00 p.m. – Willow Birdfeeder Workshop

Wednesday 28th August – 2:00 p.m. – Decoupage Family Workshop

Friday 30th August – The Gruffalo’s Stick Man & Hair Crown Workshop & Picnic

Saturday 31st August – Willow Obelisk Workshop

Thank you to all our new and prospective customers for following our blog posts and newsletter. This has been a very exciting journey so far and we are looking forward to bringing you many more workshop experiences for you to enjoy with your friends and family.

Look out for our next blog post announcing a new collaboration and workshops to be held at yet another amazing location within the Surrey Hills!


Hazel vs Willow

This year I (Lorraine) began working with Willow to create Obelisk, plant supports of all sizes. In previous years the material of choice has been Hazel, I coppiced this together with my husband Paul who also uses Hazel for Hedgelaying & Hurdle Making. Paul (aka the Woodsman) is a professional Hedgelayer and manages the coppicing cycle at Felland Copse, Reigate. I will be writing much more about Hedgelaying and it’s benefits in future posts as we head into autumn and the winter months when this traditional skill is practised and Paul begins his commercial Hedgelaying work and participates at ploughing matches and local and national competitions! In October he starts work on his first hedge of the season and this is located on our doorstep? Being so close this will give us a great opportunity to pop back and forth to see the hedge at different stages in the growth cylce and share these updates with those who are interested!

CALL OUT FOR VOLUNTEERS: I was so pleased to be joined by several very helpful volunteers earlier this year to help me harvest both Hazel from Felland Copse and Willow from Priory Farm. If you are interested in helping out this November and/or in February then please do let me know, your reward will be to learn to make a willow craft or to take away a small bundle of Willow, whichever you prefer!

Thank you to Renee Canta aka @thegirlwhogardens, Niki Bolger @shemakes and my long standing friend Debbie Whittenbury and her dog Ronnie!

Hazel vs Willow

I must admit, I really enjoy working with Hazel as this material produces an extremely strong Obelisk and is also great for creating a sturdy and re-usable wreath base. Willow, however, is so much easier to harvest and there are so many different varieties and colours to choose from, it also grows very fast and can reach up to 12ft in just one year! I continue to learn more and more about the versatility of Willow and my new found love for learning the traditional skill of weaving! Willow is much easier on your hands than Hazel and in addition to the Willow I harvest locally I am now buying buff Willow to use for more intricate weaving work such as my Dragonfly, Heart, Flower, Bird Feeder, Fish making Workshop Experiences.


I will continue to use Hazel for making Christmas Wreaths, those I made for myself last year I have since stripped of all the green foliage and will redress again this year. Birch or Curly Willow is also a great material for dressing my Hazel wreath base before I add any fresh foliage. I know it’s probably far too early to mention the ‘C’ word but I have just booked Lloyd Hall in Outwood and published a Christmas Workshop page on my website, ready to take early bookings! I will add additional venue’s and dates in time but wanted to ensure I secure this lovely local venue a.s.a.p. before they become fully booked!

Obelisk Workshop Experiences

Some of you may already have joined my rustic Obelisk Workshop Experiences and made a mini-Obelisk and/or large Obelisk up to 7ft in height and managed to fit it into your car to take home and display proudly in your garden. Others may not have yet had the pleasure so I thought I would highlight the courses still available:

Willow Obelisk Workshop @ Priory Farm

Learn more and book here: Saturday 31st August

In this workshops you will have the choice of a 1 hr workshop to make a Mini Obelisk suitable for a pot (we do this on a table top) or a 2.5 hr workshop to make both a mini Obelisk and a larger Obelisk (up to 7ft in height).

Given the time of year we can create an open top plant support if preferred, these are suitable for tall flowering plants that need that extra support to stop them toppling over.

Willow Weaving & Woodland Lunch – The Salt Box @ Priory Farm

Learn more and book here: Tuesday 13th August

Spend a morning beneath the trees learning how to use natural materials and learn how to weave either a Mini-Obelisk or a Bird Feeder to take home for your garden.

Following the workshop, we’ll sit down at our shared dining table beneath the trees for a delicious 2-course feast, cooked over an open-fire and inspired by seasonal, local ingredients.

Obelisk & Mini-Wattle Hurdle Workshop @ Sussex Prairies

Learn more and book here: Sunday 11th August (only 1 ticket remaining)

Learn more and book here: Sunday 22nd September

We have combined two workshops into one so that you can choose to make and take home either/or both an Obelisk (plant support) and Mini-Wattle Hurdle for your garden!

Thank you for your interest in our growning business, we very much look forward to sharing further posts with you each month. We will continue to notify you of our new workshops and training course experiences plus additional collaborations once we are ready to announce these. If you have any feedback or something in mind that you would like to discuss please do feel free to make contact and let us know your thoughts!

Thank you, Lorraine & Paul Matthews