Mixed hedging, also called native or country hedging, provides a varied habitat with a wide range of food sources and nesting opportunities. These hedges will bring much more wildlife into the garden than any formal hedge. Use one of our suggested hedging mixes, which consist of plants chosen to grow well and look good together, or be adventurous and make up your own mix. The list that follows outlines many of the plants that typically are used together to make the traditional country hedge. Suitable candidates would include:
Blackthorn, Sloe (Prunus spinosa)
Blackthorn is a good hedging plant in its own right and an essentila component of a stockproof hedge where being impenetrable is important
Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris)
Crabapple is a wonderful hedge plant - a food source for local wildlife and a great pollinator of nearby apple trees. Tough as anything.
Field maple is present in almost every country hedge. Pretty young red tinted foliage and fabuluous gold leaves in autumn
Guelder Rose is the other native wild viburnum. Pom-pom white flowers, stunning autumn foliage and hanging clusters of redcurrant-like berries make this Britain's most beautiful native shrub.
Hawthorn, Quickthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Hawthorn hedges do more to define the British countryside than any other. The backbone of almost native hedging from Land's End to John O'Groats.
Hazel (Corylus avellana)
Plant Hazel for its early pollen - essential to bees on warm winter days. Large leaves screen anything and there is always the chance of a nut.
Honeysuckle, Shrub (Lonicera nitida)
Not a climber but a bush that looks very like a small leaved cotoneaster or privet. Shrub honeysuckle is much underrated as a hedging plant. Clips well, growns in deep shade and is much loved by birds and dormice.
Pear, Wild (Pyrus communis)
Up there with Crab Apple and does the same job for nearby pear trees
Privet, Wild (Ligustrum vulgare)
Wild Privet is poisonous to humans, cattle and horses but is adored by birds. Evergreen in all but the hardest winter.
Rose, Dog (Rosa canina)
Dog Rose is the thinking man's barbed wire. Carries vicious thorns and runs through hedges while looking beautiful in flower and showing red hips through most of the winter.
Spindle, Spindleberry (Euonymus europaeus)
Spindleberry is the punk rocker of the hedgerow. Rather insignificant until early August when its seed pods begin to show pink. The colour deepens until it is truly shocking and then the pods split to reveal bright orange seeds.
Wayfarer, Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana)
Wayfaring Tree is one of our two native viburnums. Lovely autumn tints and strings of red and black berries deep into winter.
These hedge plants all do best when cut back every other year; biennial trimming gives the plants a chance to flower and fruit. They therefore tend to make larger, shaggier, wild looking hedges, that teem with life.