Carpinus Betulus (the European or Common Hornbeam) is a hardy, semi evergreen which makes an extremely versatile hedging plant. It is similar to beech with the advantage of tolerating wet feet and cold and/or exposed situations – modern botanists classify hornbeams in the birch subfamily Coryloideae. It is typically found in lowland situations, growing in the wild at elevations below 600m.
Hornbeam works well in an informal mixed native hedge because, once established, it retains its coppery leaves to provide both 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. If you are undecided whether to go for beech or hornbeam, this may help you decide: while young hornbeams may drop some leaves over winter, its new foliage will appear as early as mid-March while new foliage on beech appears some weeks later in early May.