Hedge plants are simply trees and shrubs that, over the course of thousands of years, we have learned to recognise as suitable for planting, growing and pruning to form a hedge.
The hedge was the first living mark we ever made on the planet when they were grown and maintained solely for practical purposes and does not occur in nature any more than, say, a cottage garden or a parterre.
But using hedging plants in this way or, indeed, for ornamentation, has not altered their fundamental DNA and even the many cultivars and hybrids that have been raised over the last few hundred years remain what they always were and are – trees and shrubs.
So, any of the hedging plants listed below can be planted on their own or in an informal spread and allowed to grow as they would in the wild. Of course, though, they can be pruned and trimmed to keep the shape and height you want just like they would if they had been planted to create a hedge.
Preliminaries: The same rules apply when introducing hedge plants as individual or multiple trees and/or shrubs as for planting a hedge .The Hedge Guide page on our website has all the information you’ll need to choose the right plants for your garden
Planting: Again, our Hedge Guide explains everything you need to know about planting and aftercare.
Choosing your specimen plant:
• Beech (Fagus sylvatica): Every spring new green foliage appears and turns to a coppery brown in autumn, staying on the plant until next year’s leaves start to appear
• Box (Buxus): Box Balls and Pyramids work whether planted individualy or in free-flowing clumps – see the photo on our main website
• Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Rotundifolia’): A popular and easy-to-grow choice, often used to screen less attractive aspects of a garden
• Escallonia Macrantha Rubra ‘Crimson Spire’: An unfussy and highly decorative flowering shrub with glossy green leaves and a dark red floral display that lasts from summer through autumn
• Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’: The perfect backdrop for bright flowers or other plants
• Griselinia Littoralis: A true evergreen with glossy, apple green leaves, tiny yellow flowers in spring and, subject to pruning, purple fruit in autumn. Generally kept to a height of 2m or lower, it will reach 6m if you let it.
• Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus): One of the few trees used in hedging that can tolerate extremely wet soil
• Leylandii (Cupressocyparis Leylandii): Keep its growth in check and plant it in a sensible location and the Leylandii will serve you well.
• Lonicera (Lonicera nitida): More commonly grown as the first rabbit-proof fence, Lonicera makes an excellent specimen plant for topiary beginners.
• Photinia Red Robin (Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’): The choice for a vibrant splash of red
• Purple Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’): The beech to choose for that extra display of autumn colour
• Yew (Taxus baccata): If you can find room in your garden (Yews can be pruned to size), you won’t regret it!
• NB: And, of course, any Lavender or Rosemary plant will make an excellent specimen.
In the next post we’ll look at the choices for growing hedge plants in containers…