Alexan­dra Camp­bell cham­pi­ons grow­ing your own hedge

Alexan­dra Camp­bell cham­pi­ons grow­ing your own hedge.

The People's Friend - - This Week -

NOW is a good time to plant a hedge (un­less you are al­ready get­ting frosts). May I ask you to con­sider adding a lit­tle more hedg­ing to your life?

Hedges are won­der­ful for wildlife. In Bri­tain, you can usu­ally grow a hedge a lit­tle higher than a fence, so they are good for pri­vacy, too.

And they are a com­pact way of in­creas­ing green­ery in your en­vi­ron­ment so they im­prove air qual­ity.

At RHS Wis­ley, there is a dis­play for “Green­ing Grey Bri­tain”, which shows a front gar­den with a small, low hedge as a di­vider be­tween the park­ing space and the front path.

It’s neatly clipped and takes up very lit­tle space. But it’s use­ful at neu­tral­is­ing car ex­hausts and looks smart, too.

There’s a de­light­ful new trend for “ed­i­ble hedges”. A mixed hedge of el­der­ber­ries, dog roses, hazel, crab ap­ples and wild cur­rants will give you flow­ers, nuts and berries for mak­ing jams, jel­lies and cor­dials. Or it’ll pro­vide food for birds and pol­li­nat­ing in­sects.

If you have a small or nar­row gar­den, you may think a hedge takes up too much space. A friend’s gar­den is around 18 ft x 30 ft. She’s used the fenc­ing as sup­port for climbers. Her “hedg­ing” is made of ivy, black­ber­ries, pas­sion­flower, hon­ey­suckle and dog roses.

She al­lows the climbers to flower and fruit (for wildlife) and ties or trims back in­di­vid­ual stems if the plants threaten to get too bulky.

Hedges also make a good back­drop for your plant­ing. A neat green privet hedge is a very at­trac­tive foil for flow­ers, as well as shel­ter­ing smaller birds from their big­ger preda­tors.

Peo­ple can be ner­vous about choos­ing the right hedge. Dis­cuss your soil and as­pect with a spe­cial­ist hedge or tree nurs­ery.

Gar­den cen­tres are great, but they don’t al­ways have qual­i­fied staff who know what will suit your needs.

How­ever, many Bri­tish hedges are easy to grow, such as beech, hawthorn and privet. If you’re plan­ning a hedge in a shady or very damp spot, then do con­sult a hedg­ing sup­plier.

It’s also worth plant­ing the hedge prop­erly. I have a privet hedge. Four plants were ba­si­cally just stuck in the earth nine years ago. They took around five years to turn into a “proper” hedge.

Last au­tumn I de­cided to ex­tend it by another four plants. This time, I took great care to plant them prop­erly. (See my “How To Plant A Hedge” video on the Mid­dle­sized Gar­den Youtube chan­nel.)

I dug a trench, filled it with a mix of tree com­post and well-rot­ted ma­nure, then added my­c­or­rhizal fungi near the roots and wa­tered it well. The four new plants are al­most where I want them to be af­ter just one year.

So how much does a hedge cost? If you plant at this time of year, you can buy “bare-root hedg­ing”. The rest of the year, you will need to buy more ex­pen­sive hedg­ing in pots.

Young bare-root hedg­ing is very cheap – usu­ally around £1 to £4 a plant. But it will take three or more years to be a proper hedge.

Or you can buy an in­stant hedge from most hedg­ing com­pa­nies. This will lit­er­ally be ten times more ex­pen­sive (or more!) at around £20 to £40 plus a plant. But you will get the look you want im­me­di­ately. Happy hedg­ing! n

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