The location of Brown’s Walk, Wrecclesham, can be found here. The author makes the intriguing suggestion that Laurel Grove (which connects to Brown’s Walk) was of Roman origin. More recently, hops were grown in some of the bordering fields. There were extensive sand workings here as well.
Sunlit trees tower above Brown’s Walk, a shaded lane in Wrecclesham, Surrey. I do not know who Brown was, or why she or he walked here. The trees offer a radiant contrast to the dark lane, the dull fence and the dismal laurel hedge.
This particular laurel is Prunus laurocerasus, also known as Cherry Laurel. It is a native of regions bordering the Black Sea. People like it because it’s evergreen and it’s tough, but I think it is a hideous plant. It is highly toxic – the Roman emperor Nero poisoned the wells of his enemies with a distillate of Cherry Laurel. How much better if everyone were to plant hedges that replace grubbed up hedgerows? Hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel are all of much greater benefit to wildlife and more attractive as well. Cherry Laurel is easy to grow and does not object to being clipped. This convenience is part of the hubris of our modern age, the (mostly) wealthy householders of Surrey don’t want to spend time on their environment. The poisonous hedge keeps passers-by from looking through windows, and that is final.
If the wealthy and privileged people in our culture cannot use their wealth to make things better, there is no hope.