Cuttings: Cypress defended

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BLIND as I am to the merits of Leyland cypress, I was unfairly dismissive of their value to birds (Independent, 28 November), says E F Hale of Bentley in Surrey. Mr Hale has hedges of six different native species and one of Leyland cypress. The birds much prefer the cypress for shelter and nesting.

Joyce Hamer, of Bovey Tracey in Devon, agrees. 'This summer I observed blackbirds, robins, sparrows and greenfinches as well as pigeons nesting in it,' she writes. 'Magpies saunter over it seeking and finding eggs and nestlings. Sparrowhawks and buzzards all put in an appearance for prey.' Another favourite prejudice bites the dust]

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