If you will pardon the french, Hawthorn is the dog's b*****ks of a hedge plant. Most of the hedges near us (be they hawthorn, beech, whatever) come from us - not surprisingly as Ashridge Trees sells over 2 million plants a year of which a large proportion end up in hawthorn hedges.
With the possible exception of yew, no other hedge plant has the dignity and good temper of hawthorn. It is almost unflappable.
Next to our packing shed is what ought to be an abomination of a hedge. Solid hawthorn, planted on a bank of what can only be described politely as "subsoil", weed infested, unclipped. What you might call neglected or, if it was a small child, abused. And yet here we are on 5th January 2009 and this long suffering hawthorn hedge is still covered in haws. They were dripping with frost this morning and looked simply stunning as I walked in to work. Closer examination showed a few buds are beginning to stir, and I have complete confidence in saying that that the seriously hard frost we got last night will have left them as perfect as ever.
Less than a mile away is a small ex-council house (I think privately owned now) whose exquisite small garden is open to the public one day a year in June. In the interests of the Gardeners Benevolent Fund, I am afraid you will need to buy the Yellow Book of Gardens Open to the Public in England & Wales to find out where it is. Anyway, in June, when a Hawthorn hedge is neither in flower or in full berry, this little garden's boundary hedge is a tight clipped, razor edged, utterly immaculate thing of beauty. And visitors do a double take when, on reading the notes to find out what it is, they discover they have been had by a simple old hawthorn hedge.
If you have room, and you have not got one.....
You can start here if you want to buy hawthorn hedge plants.