Hedgerows and Hedging Plants- By: Jenny Hicks
Hedges were first introduced for privacy and security and they are still two of the biggest reasons for garden hedges today. Britain is a nation of gardeners. Britain has been passionate for gardening and tending to pieces of privately owned land.
Hedges frame a garden and provide privacy and structure. Hedges are not harsh like a brick or stone wall and can be shaped differently if required. They also allow airflow through a garden which a wall does not and without an airflow plants can suffer.
The last few decades have seen the demise of many thousands of miles of established hedgerows and their associated wildlife. To help redress this balance we are offering four carefully selected mixtures of native species, these will grow together to form a dense rustic hedge that will be stock proof and encourage a wide variety of wildlife. Trim at any time from August onwards, ideally in winter. These well balanced mixes are a more economical and convenient way of planting native species.
Privet is the most common hedging plant found in suburban areas. It is dark green so provides a good strong border and is easy to cultivate. Leylandii is another very popular hedging plant but one that grows at an extremely high rate causing many a neighbourhood dispute.
Evergreen mix native hedging would be the preferred choice of many homeowners and gardeners. Unfortunately there are very few suitable native or indigenous plants that are true evergreens so garden nurseries have had to adapt and use. For example, leaf retaining Beech and Hornbeam for more variety. This mixture provides as good a degree of year round privacy as is possible without using more ‘suburban’ evergreen plants.
The native Green Beech is a particularly versatile hedging plant, suitable for both formal garden hedges and more extensive stockproof country hedgerows. When trimmed as a hedge Green Beech can easily be maintained at any height from 2ft upwards. (The world's tallest Beech Hedge at Meikleour in Scotland stands at 100ft.)! The delicate wavy edged new foliage emerges light green in late spring and darkens to a rich bright green during the summer months. As autumn progresses these leaves often change to a buttery golden yellow before turning to a familiar rich copper in winter.
Green Beech is technically a deciduous tree however Beech Hedges will retain their leaves in winter, this can be encouraged by giving your Beech Hedge its annual hair cut in late summer. The retained leaves give year round privacy making a Beech Hedge a good alternative to evergreen plants. The coppery brown leaves are also unharmed by salt spray and pollution making Green Beech an excellent choice for a roadside hedge.
Beech Hedge may be grown successfully in full sun or part shade and will grow in any reasonable soil (including chalk) providing it is well drained. If soil becomes waterlogged in winter, it is recommended by garden nurseries that Hornbeam hedging plants are planted which is another similar native species that thrives in wetter conditions. Green Beech is a tough and relatively fast growing plant (1-2ft per year) it will tolerate exposed windy sites and drought once established.
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