In our area, apart from a frosty spell over the new year period, it has been another very open winter and the signs of spring are evident. The Pussy Willow is out, along with the first Snowdrops and Crocuses and many plants are showing new growth. We must hope there are no late severe frosts to cut them back.
Following January’s Ramblings I have had a number of requests to be more specific about hedges and trees. I dealt with deciduous hedges last month as a way of using good value bare root plants at this time of year, and although evergreens are more usually pot grown and available all year, there are some available ‘bare root’ or ‘root balled’. Conifers remain the best value for a dense evergreen hedge, and although Leylandii have a reputation for growing out of control, they are easily kept in check - as I’ve said before, I have a hedge that is 5 ft high and has been for 25 years merely by trimming twice a year. A fragrant and more elegant hedging conifer is Thuja Plicata which also makes a superb specimen for the larger garden.
In my view, the best evergreen hedge without doubt is Prunus Rotundifolia usually known as Common Laurel. It has a spread of up to 2m and will grow to 5m high and, if well fed and watered (a bit like me!), is quick growing. Ligustrum commonly known as Privet, is another common choice and makes a good thick hedge. Golden Privet is particularly attractive, we describe it as a semi-evergreen because it may lose its leaves in severe weather, but is rarely without them for long. Similar to Privet but with smaller leaves is Lonicera - yes amazingly it is related to the honeysuckles but bears no resemblance - it makes a dense hedge and is particularly suited to formal regular clipping. ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ is the gold leaved example. But of course for the ultimate evergreen formal hedge Box is the first choice, Buxus Sempervirens, the Common Box, is good for topiary and is often seen shaped as balls or pyramids, whilst Buxus Suffruticosa is suitable for low formal edging.
If you would like your hedge to be productive try planting Corylus Maxima known as the ‘Filbert’ - it is available in two forms, green and purple, and produces attractive catkins and delicious nuts.
I’ve mentioned before my preference for hedges rather than fences, they don’t blow down and don’t need painting and can provide great security. Hippophae Rhamnoides or Sea Buckthorn is an attractive grey leaved hedge wich produces orange berries and has vicious thorns. As the name suggests, it is particularly suitable for coastal areas and will deter any burglar, as will Rosa Rugosa with its attractive orange winter berries or hips. Berberis or Pyracantha, which is not just a wall shrub, both make an attractive, impenetrable hedge.
I’ll talk more about trees next month so if you have any specific questions let me know.