Garden plants, trees and shrubs are as important as those in the wider landscape and we can all do our bit to support native plants. Hedgerows are synonymous with the UK’s landscape but they are as important for their use as barriers and for privacy as they are for the many species of wildlife that inhabit them.
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, hedging nurseries can now be seen offering carefully selected mixtures of native species, which will grow together to form a dense rustic hedge that will be stock proof and encourage a wide variety of wildlife. These mixes can be trimmed at any time from August onwards but ideally in winter. These well balanced mixes are a more economical and convenient way of planting native species which enable gardeners and homeowners with a limited budget to have native hedging.
Native hedging mixes are now available which are both economical and easy to look after. For example, a mix comprising of approximately 70% Quickthorn and Blackthorn to knit the hedge together, the balance is selected from Common Alder, Common Dogwood, Dog Rose, Field Maple, Hazel and Spindle. These native hedge mixes are suitable for a range of situations including coastal areas, windy and exposed areas and wet sites. They are thorny and attract wildlife to boot.
Many gardeners ask hedging nurseries for ‘Evergreen’ mix native hedging. Evergreen hedging needs little explanation as to its popularity and is very easy to maintain. Unfortunately there are very few suitable native or indigenous plants that are true evergreens so leaf retaining Beech and Hornbeam for more variety have to be used instead. This mixture gives as good a degree of year round privacy as is possible without using more ‘suburban’ evergreen plants. An example mixture comprises 50% Quickthorn and Blackthorn to knit the hedge together, 10% Green Holly, 10% Evergreen Oak, 10% Green Beech, 10% Hornbeam and 10% Wild Rose, Spindle, Guelder Rose and Wayfaring Tree. These are usually available as 2-3ft and 3-4ft transplant although Holly and Evergreen Oak are usually supplied pot grown at the same height. It should be noted that if this mixture is to be planted on a cold exposed inland site, it is a recommendation that Green Holly is substituted for the Evergreen Oak hedging which will not succeed in these conditions.