When Allied troops stormed ashore in Brittany and Normandy in 1944, they encountered the irregularly shaped agricultural fields and many hedges that characterize that part of the French countryside. This bocage country challenged the movement of vehicles and equipment, which had to be brought through or around long walls of hedges growing atop steep roadside banks. The French term applies both to the hedge itself and to a landscape made up of such hedges. In North America the term refers generally to a landscape of small fields surrounded by low hedges. In parts of Louisiana, bocage is used to designate a peaceful, shade-giving place. There is a Bocage subdivision in Baton Rouge and, near New Orleans, the storied Bocage Plantation, carved from the once wild banks of the Mississippi River in order to plant fields of indigo, cotton, and sugarcane, separated by long borders of towering live oaks. The bocage country of Louisiana compares with French long lots of the same region. These irregularly shaped parcels have a narrow end fronting on a river, with the long axis of the property perpendicular to the waterway. The advantage to the French long-lot system is that many more property owners have river access.

Mike Tidwell