Finding its way to southern England after the last ice age, Fagus sylvatica or the European Beech, is deservedly considered a classic plant for hedging and is popular throughout the country. Easy to maintain, long-lasting and happy in any well-drained soil (including chalk) and most locations, its fame really rests on its foliage. Every spring it throws out new green foliage which turns to a coppery brown in autumn but, crucially, stays on the plant until next year’s leaves start to appear (a process called marcescence). A beech hedge therefore offers attractive, year-round screening and, for a while, stunning dual-coloured foliage.
To produce a dense hedge as quickly as possible, plant beech in a double row using container grown plants as is slow to establish.
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For this particular species we would recommend a double row of plants for the best hedge.
Foliage Type: Semi- Evergreen Hardiness: ✯✯✯✯✯ Ease of maintenance: ✯✯✯✯✯ Versatility: ✯✯✯✯ Drought Resistance: ✯✯✯✯✯ Soil type: Acid or Alkaline Wet/Dry: Both Preferred situation: Sun / Light shade Height: 2-3m Growth Rate: Medium / Strong
Soil and Situation Beech will tolerate just about all conditions and locations: wet or dry, sunny or shaded, acid or alkaline – any except those in exceptionally cold and/or exposed locations and/or offering poor drainage like heavy clay. In these circumstances hornbeam is a better choice.
Maintenance: Prune in early August to ensure leaves are retained. Once the desired height has been achieved, prune annually to maintain
Versatility: In one sense, beech excels at just one fundamental job – the boundary hedge par excellence. But its willingness and ability to perform this task in such a wide variety of locations is itself a form of versatility.
And finally: To witness Fagus Sylvatica’s ultimate potential, visit Meikleour in central Scotland and the magnificent Meikleour Beech Hedge. Planted in 1745, it now stands 30m high and 530m long – making it both the world’s highest and longest hedge. Trimming this record breaker requires a little more than the few hours it takes to keep its more modest brethren in shape, but having reached such dimensions, at least the task only has to be done every ten years.