Creating a Hedgerow
I'm developing a small woodland area at the bottom of our garden which backs onto woodland. It's much lighter now we've removed a couple of huge evergreens, though our neighbour's evergreens continue to cast some shade. However there is dappled shade now and lots of scope for planting. I've so far planted dog and briar rose, field maple, euonymous and wayfaring tree; also a rowan and wild cherry.
We had a huge overgrown elder and as it was only flowering and fruiting high up, we cut it right back hard. I was hoping it might re-grow but after 6 weeks it hasn't done so yet. Have I killed it? Do elders respond to being cut back hard? I was hoping it would behave like a coppiced hazel (we have one we've also cut down hard and I am sure that will re-grow).
I want to plant wild clematis, black bryony to scramble through the shrubs. Does anyone know the best place to buy hedgerow plants?
I also have a blackthorn which has grown a bit large. Should I leave it like that or risk cutting it back, and if I can prune it, when's the best time to do it in order to minimise damage or loss of flowers and fruit?
Any advice welcome!
I also wanted to create a hedgerow after I lost yet another fence to our bad weather! After lots of online research I eventually bought my mixed native hedge from The Hedge Nursery. The whips arrived carefully packaged with no damage at all and I am glad to say that my hedge is happy, healthy and it is coming along nicely now. All the rain we are having has probably helped too!!!
In my experience elders respond well to being hacked back, even the fancy ones like sambucus Black lace and the golden form. You could plant another clematis such as tangutica Red Ballon to add flower interest later in the season. i have one scrambled up a tree and never prune it. It's loved by bees and the flowers start yellow then fade to a dusky red followed by twirly, silken seedheads.
The general rule for pruning shrubs is immediately after flowering if they flower before end of June. Otherwise prune in late winter/early spring. You will inevitable lose some flowers and thus fruits.
You could also consider hawthorn and honeysuckle for your hedgerow as both provide nectar and fruit for birds and insects. Being thorny, teh hawthorn also lets small birds shelter from predator cats and raptors.
A good garden centre should have hedgreow plants in stock come autumn. Honeysuckle and clematis should be available all through the growing season.
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
I obtained my native hedge plants from Wiggly Wigglers. I was very happy with the quality of the plants and the service from the company. The plants are in a semi-shaded area, in fact more shade than sun, but seem happy and have been in a couple of years now.
I planted 40 metres native hedging about 18 months ago, and can recommend that you use a mycorrhizal produce (such as Rootgrow) to help the new plants establish - 200 hedging plants and only 1 plant lost (due to the dog!)
"We had a huge overgrown elder and as it was only flowering and fruiting high up, we cut it right back hard." Elders are relatively short-lived, I think. If yours was quite big it is possible it was nearing the end of its useful life. You first posted back in June. Has it recovered yet? If not, I fear it may be a gonner. Although they provide flowers and berries for insects and birds (and humans too - eldeflower cordial is delicious!) there are many other things you could replace it with which will provide good hedgerow cover. Elder tends to get very leggy and sparse and the branches are quite brittle, so it's not very good in a mixed hedgerow.
The common elder in the UK is a low-growing shrub or small tree with stiff deeply-furrowed green or brownish-grey trunk and branches. The younger branches are green with whiteish blotches. In spring it produces big mops of creamy-white flower heads which are sweet and fragrant when young but as they fade they develop a distinctive cat-pee smell. http:elder flower
The flowers are followed by bunches of small purple-black berries which are very bitter to the taste (more accurately, like alum, they make the mouth pucker and go dry) but which are rich in vitamin C and can be made into a very palatable syrup, jam or wine, if stripped from the stems with a fork.
Thank you to all for your advice and tips!
The elder hasn't recovered, so we assume it's dead. However, we have some young elder rooted plants from Daughter who didn't want them in her garden, so that is a result. Not sure how long it will take to reach flowering size though!
As to the blackthorn though: ok, so I missed the boat with pruning after it finished flowering this year. So when should I prune it? If I prune it now, will new growth be made in time to have flowers next year, or does it make no difference?
Am hoping to get a Viburnum Opulus - the one with golden berries which I've seen in Sissinghurst - hoping the birds will approve. I am still hunting for a Black Bryony which is a twining climber in hedgerows rather than a hedging plant. So far, no suppliers. Any ideas here?
In the spring i planted about 20m of native mixed hedgerow in one corner of our field to make a windbreak for the horses (eventually). I got mine from the hedge nursery also, and becasue it was too late for bare root, i went for cell grown plants. Although small when they arrived they all took well (i used root grow too). On top of their standard mix of hawthorn, blackthorn, field mapel, and dog rose, i also added some cherry plums.
I have grown my own hedgerow for my sons garden.They were hazel,hawthorn,holly and I used a few herb hedges too rosemary and lavender but you wound not want those.They germinated well and grew well,it depends how quickly you want your hedge but it took 2 seasons to take off and start shaping.