This is a wide, dense hedgerow, which separates Greendykes Road from open fields, following a gentle slope uphill. The field side of this hedgerow is south-facing along its whole length, so it receives a lot of sunlight. The road side is more shaded (as can be seen above). Also, the bottom of the slope is very wet. Most of this hedgerow consists of sprouting Wych Elm. This makes it very thick and difficult to pass through in places. Wych Elm gets its name from its flexible branches - the meaning of the word ‘Wych’ is ‘flexible’ rather than having anything to do with witches! Twine was once made from the inner bark of the tree, and was used in tying up cloth for tie-dying.
All Elms are vulnerable to Dutch Elm Disease, which is a fungal infection that kills the tree. It is carried by Elm Bark Beetles and has wiped out many Elm trees in Britain. The City of Edinburgh Council is helping to control the spread of this disease through the Dutch Elm Disease Programme. Infected Elms are identified, cut down and the bark is burnt (killing the beetle larvae) so the beetles can’t spread the fungus to other Elm trees.
Holly, Elder, Hawthorn and Dog Rose also make quite an effective barrier here.
A few Wild Cherry trees can be spotted beside the road, especially in early May, when their white blossom stands out amongst the browns and greens of spring.
There are not that many different kinds of ground plants here – mainly Creeping Buttercup, Cow Parsley, Ivy, grasses and mosses with some Brambles, Hogweed, Cleavers, Thistle, Dandelion and Wild Garlic. Lesser Celandine can be found towards the bottom of the slope, in the wetter soil and Wood Avens can be found more towards the top. There is a low, crumbling stone wall between the hedge and the road, which supports mosses and lichens, and also provides a bank for Cow Parsley and White Dead Nettle. There are many decaying tree-stumps (good for wildlife) in the hedgerow and molehills are present in some places.
You can see Greenfinches, Blackbirds, Redwings and Great Tits in the bushes here, and Starlings around the nearby houses.
Go explore for yourself!