Macrocarpa hedges are a big thing here. Very large, spreading macrocarpa (Cupressus macrocarpa aka Monterey Cypress) are a common sight on properties and farms. In the Canterbury region, where we live, macrocarpa hedges provide animals with shelter from the strong north-westerlies or from the rain and snow. Because they grow quite densely, they are excellent windbreaks.

But what a nuisance they are when it comes to trimming them. We’re still uncertain as to how often to trim the blasted things – one farmer told us yearly, another every two or three years. Another person said “oh, maybe every 5 years”. But since most of the hedges we have were towering and starting to block out the sun around the house, we decided to get the local dude out who gives macrocarpas a haircut.

What a job this guy has. And what a mess trimming macrocarpas creates. The guy is called the Frogman (no idea why: possibly it’s his business name) and basically you just have to wait for him. At his convenience. Because so many properties have huge macrocarpa hedges, this chap is kept very busy. We contacted him AGES ago and he said yep, I’ll come along. Fast forward to three months later and we still hadn’t seen him.

Then the farmer who has sheep and cows grazing with us said that frogman is in the vicinity. It will be soon. Get yourself ready. In a way, it was like trying to sight an elusive UFO. You look out the window and gaze towards the macrocarpa, wondering “Is it today. Will I see frogman?”.

As luck would have it, frogman made his appearance when I was in Australia so I couldn’t capture the haircut on camera. Hubby says he’s a very nice chap and was busy pruning for two days. When I arrived home, it was like a war zone. Huge branches, chips of wood, pine cones and pine needles EVERYWHERE. Frogman simply does the haircut and leaves. The property owner gets stuck with cleaning up. We’ve been at it for a week so far and we’re nearly there. I’m sure there are faster and more intelligent ways of clearing than what we are doing. But we are still relatively clueless city folk.

Most worrying for me was all the little chips of wood and pine cones on the arena. Don’t want these stuck in any horse’s hooves. So I’ve been getting some excellent exercise: bending and picking up a never-ending sea of wood bits and pieces. Zeph helps: well, he sits in the sun and chases little white butterflies.

Bits of wood, branches and pine cones strewn all over the arena - with one of the huge macrocarpa hedges in the background.

There must be a more intelligent way but basically I'm bending down picking up each and every piece.

Zeph surveys the war zone that is the laneway between the arena and a long hedge of macrocarpa.