The Ashridge Nurseries Blog

Our Top Tips For The Season: no. 8


A really useful addition to any garden

A box hedge is a really useful addition to any garden and has the advantage of being evergreen. Some of the most fabulous gardens in the country are winter ones and have acres of box hedging in them. Sir Roy Strong created the largest formal garden to have been designed in the UK since 1945 together with his late wife Dr Julia Trevelyan Oman at The Laskett in Herefordshire, he has defined many borders, boundaries and vistas with box and hedging plants. It means that he has a garden that has a strong architectural flavour and can be enjoyed all year round.

How to treat Box Blight

Box blight has been the scourge of garden borders and boundaries. It’s a fungus that attacks Buxus. For ideas on how to treat it, visit the Royal Horticultural Society’s excellent website. The RHS has conducted in depth research into the disease. However you can reduce the risk of blight by clipping your hedges in winter. A mild day after Christmas is ideal.

When to plant a hedge

The best time to plant a hedge is in winter. Allow for roughly three plants per metre. For extra secure or stock proof hedges, you can also plant in a double row at 5 plants per metre in staggered rows. Our planting videos on planting country hedges and planting formal hedges, which is shown below, explain everything. We also recommend our mulch fabric rolls, which last for years and are easy to use even on the longest of hedges.


Water in the first year

When you plant a hedge, don’t forget to water throughout their first year. Rain will take care of a lot of the watering for you but watch out for evergreen plants in winter. They hate dry feet when newly planted.

When to prune a hedge

Hedges should be pruned in their early years in spring and winter, just after planting. Depending on growth, after that they should be trimmed between one and three times a year.

Watch out for nesting birds and mammals

When trimming, watch out for nesting birds and mammals, such as the rare hazel dormice. Many wildlife species make hedges their home or use them as a source of food and ‘commuter routes’ so they can travel about in a protective tunnel in the countryside.

Hedges: a nutritious source of food

Hedges can also be a nutritious source of food for two-legged creatures. A combination of berries can be made into a jelly which can make a great accompaniment for meat or cheese. Elderberries, Sloes, blackberries, haws, rosehips and crab apples combined can taste great. Add in some chopped hazel nuts for another element to the flavour. Here are some tips on how to make a delicious hedgerow jelly

Blackberries in an apple crumble

We also love putting blackberries in our apple crumble and making blackberry jam. Be warned though, collecting the blackberries can get curiously addictive. Many bread-making machines now include a jam-making feature, which means you barely need to think about it at all.

Small shrubs for smaller gardens

Not all of us have gardens or grounds large enough to grow hedges, but there are ways round it. Some of the woody plants found in hedges can be grown on their own as small shrubs. These provide food and cover for birds. The guelder rose (viburnum opulus) provides an attractive blossom in spring for bees and other insects, and then produces berries in the autumn, which attract the birds.

Flood defence

The guelder rose, or water elder and cramp bark, is one of our favourite native hedging plants. Its name is deceptive as it is actually a viburnum as opposed to a rose, and it tends to enjoy full sunlight but it will grow in shady areas too. It prefers moist soil and will tolerate even the most waterlogged areas. Many hedging plants act as great defence barriers to flooding.

Not sure which hedge to get?

If you are undecided about which plants to put in your hedge, we have a conservation hedge mix, which consists of a bundle of 50 plants, predominantly hawthorn, but it also includes the likes of crab apple, hazel, spindle, sweet briar rose just to name a few. They are only delivered in bareroot form between November and April. You can order all these separately, but it is cheaper to purchase the bundle. We have a special video on how to plant a bareroot hedge. For those who live by the seaside where the climate and environment completely affects the types of plants you can grow, we have a special coastal hedging pack. Again they are only delivered bareroot between the months of November and March. The species we have chosen will withstand strong maritime winds and salty air, and will thrive in the dry soil that is found in coastal regions. The mixture includes hawthorn, cotoneaster, tamarisk and sea buckthorn.



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