The popularity of semi-evergreen hedging plants remains undiminished by the prospect of a few falling leaves. A small price to pay for colour-changing majesty majesty of Beech and Hornbeam that feature in our top three…
#3 Purple Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’)
For many, the Purple Copper Beech wins the Beech Wars by virtue of its stunning and subtly varied purple/copper leaves which redden majestically in autumn. It therefore makes a striking statement hedge, specimen tree or stand-out contributor to a mixed edge.
Why its less striking cousin takes first place is difficult to say – perhaps because it is a little more muted or perhaps because, unlike Purple Copper Beech, it does not need full sun.
#2 Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
The Hornbeam is far more than the hedging plant you choose if your garden is too wet for Yew. Carpinus Betulus is hardy, extremely versatile hedging and tolerant of both wet feet and cold and/or exposed situations. And its coppery leaves provide interest and some winter wildlife cover. It also makes an excellent single species garden hedge that is easier to establish and faster growing than Beech.
#1 Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
What Privet is to the urban front garden hedge, Beech is to back garden of rural England – of course both are happy in the other’s location, but Beech remains the classic boundary hedge and the most popular of our semi-evergreen hedges.
Apart from locations that are exceptionally cold and/or exposed and/or have poor drainage (i.e. heavy clay), the Beech will be happy anywhere – and then there is the wonderful spring contrast of last year’s now coppery-brown foliage being joined by the green of the new year’s growth.
Picture: A Beech hedge in summer (top) an autumn (bottom)