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Hawthorn/design guidance...

Hi all

The below photos are of the bottom fence in our garden. We're getting the fence painted shortly following which I'd like to start getting the area and general planting right to add a bit of life  

We currently have a row of Hawthorn trees at the back although I'm not sure which type. They were identified as hawthorns but in the two years I've been here I've rarely seen them flower or Berry except for a bit at the back. They cut my arms to shreds at the weekend so are certainly thorny! 

I'm not a great fan of them but I want to ensure the garden is wildlife friendly so will keep any mature native species such as these. They have some competition from the Leyland behind but everything gets trimmed periodically. 

In front and surrounding the trees is a lot of clay soil with nothing except straggly weeds and a bit of grass. I tried to plant some perennial wildflower seeds to no avail. The area does not get an awful lot of sunlight but does get a bit earlier in the day.  

Garden is west facing, square shaped with 3 x 6m fences so the borders are a bit shady..

I suppose my questions are twofold;

1. How would people approach the existing hawthorns? Would you remove one or two? Trim back further? Reshape or do anything to try and improve flowering etc? 

2. Could anyone recommend plants I could look at that might still thrive in the area below them? I would like to see as little fence as possible eventually and want any plants to be conducive to wildlife. A bit overgrown is not a problem and I'd consider climbers too. 

Any general thoughts and tips very welcome as I've got "gardeners block" at the moment owing to inexperience! 

Thanks very much 


  • Paul165Paul165 Posts: 97
  • Paul165Paul165 Posts: 97

  • Paul165Paul165 Posts: 97

  • JellyfireJellyfire Posts: 1,139
    edited May 2018
    Hawthorns can take quite a while to mature before they start flowering, up to 8 or 9 years even. Yours look close to that so id except them to flower before too long. They also flower on last years growth, so it may just be that when you’ve pruned them you’ve taken out any flowering shoots. More likely they just haven’t reached maturity yet though. Theyre pretty tough cookies though so once they have started it’ll be hard to do much damage. They look nicely shaped to me, Id just carry on as you are, but no pruning until after next spring and see what happens.

    EDIT: just realised they have flowered previously but only at the back so it sounds like you’ve cut off last years growth so no flowering shoots
    In front of the fence in the presumably quite dry and shady border, any kind of woodland/hedgerow plants should do fine there. I’d go for lots of foxgloves for some height, they will self seed around there-much loved by bumble bees. Some umbellifers, Baltic Parsley will do fine in dry shade once it’s established (water for first summer) loved by pollinators and will add some nice lightness in there. Angelica maybe, some dry shade loving ferns, and some hardy geraniums and something like pulmonaria (sissinghurst white is nice white flowers and variegated foliage) for ground cover 
    Could also get some early bulbs in there, some white daffs maybe, bluebells etc to add some interest earlier on 
    (oh and if it were me, I’d try and stick to white flowers, they work really well in shadier sites, almost glowing against the darker backdrop, and will give it a nice light feeling, but that’s down to personal taste)
  • Paul165Paul165 Posts: 97
    That's super helpful and much appreciated  
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