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Ge­orge has largely used horn­beam, Carpi­nus be­tu­lus, for hedg­ing, partly be­cause of its his­toric use and partly be­cause of its adapt­abil­ity to wet and dry con­di­tions. “I planted 23-35in (60-90cm) plants quite close to­gether, 12-16in (30-40cm), on the the­ory that this would make them go up rather than out, and this worked very well,” he says. “Horn­beam is a very quick grower and can also be kept quite thin with vig­or­ous prun­ing. I planted many of the hedges against a stout trel­lis, partly to give the im­me­di­ate ef­fect of the fin­ished height of the hedge. In some in­stances, this has been re­moved, but in oth­ers, where quite pre­cise niches were re­quired, it re­mains in situ and is vis­i­ble in win­ter as an un­der­ly­ing struc­ture.” Horn­beam par­tially re­tains its brown fo­liage in win­ter, but not quite as fully as beech. “How­ever, it has a very dense net­work of twigs when clipped, so keeps a good win­ter struc­ture,” he adds. Other hedges in­clude green and cop­per beech. Ge­orge has found that beech is not such a strong grower as horn­beam and not as ro­bust in drought in its early years. Both horn­beam and beech need at least two an­nual clips. “The most suc­cess­ful ev­er­green hedge is def­i­nitely yew, which is not at all slow and needs only one an­nual clip,” he says. “Here, in heavy clay, it seems to do well, though some at­ten­tion has been paid to drainage when plant­ing.” In ad­di­tion, there are hedges and mop­heads of Rham­nus alater­nus, which needs very good drainage, and Phillyrea lat­i­fo­lia, which seems tol­er­ant of fairly wet ground. “This is sur­pris­ing in that they are both na­tive to dry Mediter­ranean lime­stone ter­rain,” says Ge­orge. “Both were much ad­mired in the 17th cen­tury when the range of ever­greens was far more lim­ited. Dur­ing that pe­riod, sev­eral var­ie­gated va­ri­eties were avail­able. Nowa­days, Rham­nus alater­nus ‘Ar­gen­teo­marginata’ is the only one that I am aware of, and this is a re­cent vari­ant.”

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