Plants for Hedging


If you decide to use berberis as a hedging material a considerable choice is open to you. You can have evergreen or deciduous, flowered, berried, tall or short. An informal, low-growing hedge, deciduous, with interesting foliage, is provided by B. thunbergii Atropurpurea ‘nana’, neat and compact, with reddish-purple leaves, growing to about 50cm (19in). Plant 30cm (12in) apart and trim in winter. If you prefer a green hedge try the deciduous B. verruculosa, slow growing to more than lm (3ft), with small, dark green leaves, white beneath, and golden yellow flowers. For more normal hedging heights the berberis is still useful. B. stenophylla, evergreen, will grow 2-3m (6-9ft), with sprays of yellow flowers in May and June if left untrimmed (normally done after flowering) and berries in autumn. Plant about 60cm (24in) apart. P. darwinii will provide orange-yellow flowers from April to May and, unpruned, purple berries. Plant 60cm (24in) apart. Or try B. panlanertsis, a neat green species. These three taller growing species are all evergreen.


The hornbeam can make an excellent hedge and is treated very much like an ordinary beech hedge. The common hornbeam, Carpinus betlllus, is the best species for a hedge, making a medium to large tree with ribbed and toothed leaves which, like beech, will hang onto the branches during much of the winter if the tree is trimmed in August. It does not make as strong a hedge as beech, so under some conditions it is grown with thorn, one hornbeam to six quickthorns, where a strong barrier is required to keep out farm animals. Hornbeams are suitable for clay or chalky soils, even when wet. The variety C.b. ‘Fastigiata’ is also suitable for a hedge, slim at first but spreading out after it has been growing for a year or two.


Blue-grey Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Allumii’ and C.l. ‘Fletcheri’, slow growing, both make good, solid, formal hedges of about 2m (6ft) and should be planted about 60cm (24in) apart. C.l. ‘Green Hedger’, with rich green foliage, as its name suggests was specially bred as a hedging plant and has proved highly successful. C.l. ‘Lutea’ has golden foliage, as has C.l. Pisifera ‘Plumosa aurea’, with a softer, more feathery texture. Do not let these hedges grow too rapidly to their required height, but trim them very lightly three or four times in the first year or two to encourage strong growth near the base and after this give a single annual trim.


The beech provides us with some of our greatest and most noble trees as well as suitable forms for attractive hedges. A well-grown, tall beech hedge in spring shows to greatest advantage the soft green foliage which later turns darker and hangs, crisp brown, rustling, on the branches until pushed off by the new growth in the next spring. The most attractive way to grow a beech hedge is to plant one purple-leaved variety to every ten of the green, depending upon personal taste. In winter no real difference can be seen. The common beech, F. sylvatica, is the species to use for a hedge and the purple-leaved variety is F.s. ‘Purpurea’. Plant both kinds about 50cm (20in) apart, preferably in staggered rows about 20cm (Sin) apart. Try not to allow growth to exceed 15cm (6in) a year, but do not be afraid of cutting right back into old wood if too much space is being stolen.


These make a most glamorous and exciting hedge if the climate is suitable, though as a general rule only gardens in the warmer southern areas provide conditions in which fuchsia hedges can flourish. Because plants are liable to damage from early frosts, it is helpful to put them into the soil with the base of the shoots about 10cm (4in) below ground level. Plant 45-60cm (18-24in) apart in May and trim in spring by cutting back lightly if there has been little or no frost damage during the winter and more severely if there has, even almost clown to ground level. F. magellanica and its varieties are the best and toughest plants to use for hedging. This has long, slim flowers, with scarlet calyx and violet petals. The variety F.m. ‘Alba’ has shorter, white flowers. F.m. ‘Pumila’ is a dwarf type with tiny scarlet and violet flowers. F. ‘Riccartonir is quite often seen as a hedge in milder districts, usually picked out by its deeper coloured calyx and broader petals. The best florist fuchsia for hedging is probably ‘Mrs. Popple’, small. Large-flowered, almost hardy, with dramatic scarlet sepals, violet petals and long crimson stamens and style.


The shrubby honeysuckles are quite different from the climbing kinds. They are quick growing in any ordinary soil, not as hardy as privet but neater and denser. Lonicero nitida. The Chinese honeysuckle, makes a particularly compact hedge because it grows densely and because it can be trimmed into accurate lines and angles. The best form is L.n. ‘Fertilis’, strong growing, erect, with long. Arching branchlets and neat foliage. It should be planted about 50cm (12in) apart and can be allowed to grow to about 1.5m (5ft) tall. Cut back after planting to within 25-50cm (10-12in) of the soil. Trimming should take place twice a year in April and August. A colourful variety is L.n. ‘Baggesen’s Gold’. Which has yellow leaves.


Besides the flowering cherries, almonds and the like, the prunus family produces some excellent shrubby hedging material of a dwarf and tougher nature. Myrobalan plum, P. cerasifera, has long been used as a country hedge, planted in winter, trimmed in July or August. There are also P.c. ‘Pissardii’ and ‘Nigra’ both excellent hedging material.


Roses can make a good informal hedge but need plenty of space if they are to be practical enough to serve as a useful barrier to animals as well as humans. The modern hybrids do not make a good hedge by themselves and some of the old-fashioned roses, Rosa rugosa, the shrub roses and the hybrid musks are the most useful. Zephirine Drouhin, the thomless rose, flowering from early June, makes a fragrant hedge up to 4m (13ft) tall. R. eglanteria, the sweet briar, sometimes known as R. rubiginosa, produces single pink flowers. Make sure all roses are planted in good soil that has been well dug and cleared of all weeds. If you can, incorporate plenty of farmyard manure or rich compost in the trench before planting.


A small genus of hardy evergreen trees and shrubs among which are one or two subjects which make first-class hedging material. The most strongly recommended species is T. plicata, also known as western red cedar, which normally makes a large, quick-growing timber tree. The variety ‘Atrovirens’ has bright green foliage and is best planted 60cm (24in) apart. T. occidentalis. Greenish-leaved in summer, turns brownish-green in winter. Plant 45-60cm (18-24in) apart in late September or October or in March or April. Try to get plants about 50-60cm (20-24in) tall. Larger plants maybe used for a hedge but will grow more slowly than smaller, younger specimens. Trim frequently while young, but leave the top until it reaches the required height.

24. June 2013 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit Trees | Comments Off on Plants for Hedging


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: