Archive for January, 2010

Which hedging species look good in January – especially when there’s snow on the ground?

Right-o, this is an easy one to answer.

Well, obviously evergreens which have been trimmed to a very neat shape look great when dusted with snow or frost. The photograph is

Here’s a photograph of a beautiful mature Yew hedge (well done to the park-keepers) with bright Dogwood sibirica in the foreground – shown off to perfection by the dark background – and even more beautiful when there’s snow on the ground

Here’s a photograph of a beautiful mature Yew hedge (well done to the park-keepers) with bright Dogwood sibirica in the foreground – shown off to perfection by the dark background – and even more beautiful when there’s snow on the ground

of Yew (Taxus baccata) but other good species for this effect would be Leylandii, Lonicera nitida, Privet, Portuguese Laurel, Box and, although not a full evergreen, Beech is also very good for a strong, structural hedge

Viburnum tinus which is a winter flowering evergreen the tiny pink bud-like flower clusters are changing into blue-black berries as we speak

Variegated species come into their own adding bright greens, yellows and creams to the winter garden at a time when everything looks rather grey – Oleaster “Gilt Edge” or “Limelight” and Griselinia “Dixon’s Cream” would be good examples of full height species and Euonymus “Emerald and Gold” or “Emerald Queen” for compact hedges

Dogwoods are at their best – Cornus Alba with its red stems (or the slightly more expensive but even brighter red stems of Cornus Sibirica) looks great planted in a drift alongside Cornus Stolonifera with its bright yellow stems – Dogwood is particularly good set against a snowy background.

And give a thought to the birds struggling for food by providing a selection of species with berries – Holly, Pyracantha, Cotoneaster franchetii, Berberis are all good examples or you can see our ultimate guide to hedges with berries for even more fruitful options.

If frost is bad, why plant hedges in winter?

Our Charlie in the snow last week

When there is a frost, roots are unable to take up water from frozen soil and the water in the plant cells can freeze which causes damage to the cell walls.   Both of these situations can cause limpness and blackened or brown leaves, even complete failure of the plant.    Also, when the water in the soil freezes it expands, and when it thaws, it can leave behind an air pocket which means that plant roots are not stable in the soil and the whole plant can rock and of course, frost can then penetrate the air pockets causing further damage to roots.  Instability (or frost heave) is more common with newly planted hedging but this is easily overcome by regularly firming in and watering well – so that the water carries soil to the air pockets.

So, why is autumn/winter/early spring (November to March) planting so popular?

Well, firstly it’s cheaper because bare root and root ball plants are available – here’s a link to the page on our website which explains how these growing methods are different to conventional pot grown plants.

And secondly, because winter is the time when plants are resting – they are not experiencing the physical stress of having to produce new spring growth, so it gives them a chance to establish their roots (even in winter the soil deep down is warm enough for root development) before the hullaballoo of spring.

A little reminder from Hedges Direct –don’t leave it too late to order bare roots or root balls –  March is our busiest month for orders and our core team (plus helpers) work at 150% and still miss some telephone calls and aren’t quite as quick replying to emails as we’d like.   If you know you’re going to want plants for delivery in March, please order a bit earlier (you don’t need to pay for them at that stage).   This will enable us to give you the proper attention and advice that a new hedge deserves and means you’re also not running the risk that we run out of some heights or species.

What maintenance do I need to do in January?

Brush any snow gently off evergreen hedges so that the weight doesn’t break branches or split open the tight structure of the hedge.

Protect newly planted hedges or tender species (like Bay Laurel) with horticultural fleece

Get your hedging shears sharpened in readiness!