Hornbeam Topiary

M FentM Fent Posts: 166

Could anyone recommend what size bare root Hornbeam plants I should buy to start some topiary cones either side of a gate place? Will large plants (100cm +) settle in just as well as smaller plants (45 - 60cm ish)?

Initially I thought about opting for larger plants as they'll have more of an impact straight away but if they are going to take longer to settle in and grow it might be worth going for the smaller plants? Thoughts welcome !!

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  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 3,355

    If it's for topiary, I recommend the 45-60cm size. Sometimes, the larger sized plants will still need to be cut back to create a more dense branching system.

    Shrubs don't tend to fill out based on height. It's the pruning and shaping that tends to help it fill out and grow faster. Smaller plants always establish better, but that tends to be potted plants rather than bare rooted ones, but for Hornbeam, if settled in, will grow away quite fast anyway, so no point in spending more on a larger plant that is unlikely to branch out as well as a younger shrub.

    Make sure the planting holes are well dugged over and have compost/bulk ready to mix in to help it settle in faster. With bare roots, it's just as important to dig wide than deep as roots tend to branch out width-ways naturally.

  • M FentM Fent Posts: 166

    Thanks Borderline. Anymore tips for creating Hornbeam topiary cone from scratch will be greatly received 

  • M FentM Fent Posts: 166

    Ideally want them this size & shapeimage (eventually )

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 3,355

    That shouldn't be too hard. If you want the base quite wide, it's important to trim back the growth in late summer to avoid branches reaching upwards too much. It will take a bit of time, but it's always best to have topiary where the base will be wider so the sun can get to the lower sections.

    The other option is to buy three slightly smaller shrubs and group plant them into a triangle shape and that will bulk up quite quickly around the base , but a bit more costly. Then concentrate on trimming off top growth for the first few years. Then start to really shape by the third year onwards. Use secateurs instead of shears. Hornbeam leaves are quite large and not really ideal to have leaves chopped up. Always stand back to keep checking as you go all the way round to make sure you are pruning evenly. 

  • M FentM Fent Posts: 166

    Would multiple plants be weaker than just 1 single plant like the one in the photo ? 

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 3,355

    It all depends on the eventual size. There are lots of boundary hedging planted up with around 15 to 20 inches apart. They are usually very small bare rooted shrubs when first planted up. If your conical shapes do not exceed 6 feet, I think 2-3 small bare rooted shrubs planted around 15-20 inches apart will be fine. This will only work if you purchase the small size shrubs and not the larger sized ones. If you want them to be growing more taller, then it might be best to go with one shrub as suggested at the beginning. It's all about what size you want your conical shapes to be eventually.

    The roots need establishing in the first few years, but once settled in, the pruning will strengthen the plants. If you prune yearly, the more denser and stronger they grow. With shrubs, mulching around the base of the plant when young is more important in keeping it stable. Waterlogging and dehydration are the two reasons many shrubs fail in the first few years. The reason being, no shadow has formed over the base, so the soil needs to be worked over properly and finished with mulch.

  • wrighttwrightt Posts: 179

    Try Tendercare in Uxbridge. They sell anyting from young trees to mature ones in all sort of topiary shapes and often supply trees to the Chelsea and Hamton Court gardens. Not if you buy mature ones they can be expensive and need a lot of watering. If you can visit the nursery it is an amazing place with hundreds of trees, shrubs and perennials in all sizes. I had never seen a nursery like it and was in complete awe. 

  • M FentM Fent Posts: 166

    Uxbridge is a bit far for me in Derbyshire but I can imagine. Especially in winter ? 

  • wrighttwrightt Posts: 179

    I think you can search Tendercare in Uxbride online.

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