The Ashridge Nurseries Blog

Our Top Tips For The Season: No.9

Hawthorns are prolific

Because Hawthorns are so prolific, terribly tough and will grow pretty much anywhere except on deeply boggy soil, we supply them in bundles of 50 and as part of a mixed native hedge We also offer them individually and have four different varieties on offer.

How tall can they grow?

Left untouched, hawthorns can grow to about 8 metres tall. They are actually a tree but used most commonly in a hedge.

When can you plant them?

You can plant a native hawthorn hedge almost any time of year. We sell them mainly through the winter season in bareroot form which is more economical. For advice on how to plant native and country hedges including hawthorn see our video which gives a step-by-step description of the best planting techniques.

Hawthorns make great screening

Hawthorns make great screening, attract lots of wildlife, cast good shade and are great for planting amongst taller trees as part of a windbreak belt so it is no wonder they are so popular as hedging plants.

Where can you plant them?

You can plant a hawthorn pretty much anywhere but they flower better in full sun. It is worth considering that when you plant them as they make an incredibly pretty and sweet-scented display in May.

How long do they live?

Hawthorns are so hardy they can live up to 400 years. The oldest ones on record have been around for about 700 years.

What genus are they?

The trees are part of the genus Crataegus, which means ‘hardness’ in Latin. They certainly live up to their name. It is also a member of the rose family – the pair share prickly thorns.

It make great firewood

Hawthorn branches make great firewood and have the reputation of burning at the highest temperature of any wood. It has also been used to create charcoal.

Hawthorns are a hermaphrodite plant

Hawthorns are a hermaphrodite plant, which means both male and female elements are contained within the flower. Once pollinated by insects, they turn into a deep red fruit known as haws.

Try making a hawthorn schnapps

The ‘haws’ plucked as berries in autumn from the hawthorn plant can make great jellies and drinks. Try making a hawthorn schnapps by filling two thirds of a sterilised bottle or jar with hawthorn berries and then adding vodka. Fasten a lid to the top tightly and then shake every few days for six weeks. Strain the mixture at the end of the period and then leave for a further eight weeks.

The best Hawthorn jelly recipe?


The best Hawthorn jelly recipe we have come across involves 1.5lb of sugar to every pint haw juice, plus the juice of one lemon. Remove all stems from the haws and wash them. Add them to a cup and a half of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for roughly an hour and keep mashing them. Take off the heat and once cooled strain through a muslin cloth. Put back in a pan and add the sugar and lemon. Boil rapidly until the sugar is melted. This should bring the jelly to setting point. Pour the mixture into sterilised jars and, hey presto, you have a great accompaniment to cheese and meat dishes.

Are there others that you prefer? Let us know in the comments.

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