Archive for February, 2010

Spring is on its way

It’s definitely nearly Spring – there are carpet’s of crocuses in one of Charlie’s favourite parks and the Hazel trees are drenched in catkins in the field near the house – here are photos taken on Sat 20th Feb and Sunday 21st Feb to prove it

Charlie in amongst the Crocuses

Hazel Catkins

And here’s Charlie in his field (well it’s owned by the Council but we call it “Charlie’s field”). The mixed native hedgerows are full of buds ready to spring into action – Blackthorn will be in flower before we know it.

Charlie showing his tail

Having said that, it snowed again this morning and in the sales office we know that people are concerned about planting in this weather but also conscious that the bare root and root ball season only lasts to end of March/early April (earlier for tall Beech). Our advice is to get an order placed so that the plants are reserved for you, take delivery so that you’re ready for planting, but don’t actually plant until the weather is milder. Many people think that bare roots have to be planted immediately which isn’t quite right – they do have to be planted quickly but they can be kept in a garage or shed as long as the roots are kept moist and will be fine like that for several days – or if you need to keep them longer before planting, then they can be heeled in (keep them tied in bundles and put them all together into one big hole and loosely backfill with soil and keep them moist) for a few weeks.

Many thanks for the questions and comments on the blog – all welcome. Charlie’s developing a fan base – not surprising given his good looks! He get’s into the sales office too – here he is below with Karen, our office manager – excuse the apparent mess – it’s actually all better organised than it looks


Karen with Charlie

Beech Hedge spotting in the Lake District

I must take my camera with me wherever I go. This week I was in the Lake District and for once it wasn’t raining – in fact, gorgeous blue skies and bright sunshine made for a lovely day out – and I was struck by how many beautiful Beech hedges there are in that area. It reminded me that in January last year my husband and I had a week in Devon and we noticed just how many of the native hedgerows there included Beech. These regional variations in hedging species add a great deal to the character of the area.

The hot topic in this week’s horticultural magazines is how much damage will have been done to trees (and therefore hedges) by the salt damage from the recent bad weather. Up to 60,000 tons of salt per day were used at the height of the big freeze in January 2010. Salt is very toxic to living cells and a tree’s strength is reduced and is more likely to crack and split as the wood becomes dry and brittle. Apparently, in the summer we will see die-back, marginal tips of leaves will be scorched as the tree tries to push the toxins to the extremities,  and some trees or hedging plants could die completely, especially if there’s a drought later in the year. Grit is less damaging than salt but with national shortages and rationing, local authorities used whatever they could lay their hands on. Council’s use a range of equipment (eg calibrated gritters) to minimise damage and we can all learn the lessons for use in our own gardens.

  • If you are using a shovel to put salt on paths, try to keep it off the soil
  • Remove snow that has been salted from around the base of trees before it melts
  • You can try to wash salt out of the ground with a hosepipe or jet-washer but you risk damaging plant roots in other ways
  • Add a calcium or nitrogen based fertiliser can help
  • Prevention being better than cure, consider mulching to provide a barrier (that’s really closing the stable door after the horse has bolted isn’t it!)

And finally, we’ve added Gorse hedging plants to the Hedges Direct website – extremely prickly and very good for coastal situations.

Burgess Nature Park – Hedge Planting Day

We would like to thank Burgess Nature Park for their acknowledgement in their Winter newsletter – Hedges Direct gave advice on suitable species for a hedge of 421 plants in various mixed native species – and also gave a huge discount!

This species-rich hedge will provide shelter and food for many wildlife species. The planting of the hedge was undertaken by many Burgess Nature Park volunteers. Roll on spring to see the effect.

Here’s a link to the Burgess Nature Park website:

And here is a link that shows images of Hedge Planting Day

Ordering Bare Root and Root Ball plants before the end of the season

February, for the Hedges Direct team in the sales office and the nursery and despatch teams, is when we get close to fever pitch (full fever pitch is March and April!).  These spring months are our busiest – whilst we will always do our best to keep our deliveries on a very swift turnaround timescale (thanks to our box carriers and our pallet company laying on extra vehicles), please give us as much notice as you can when placing orders.

The bare root season lasts until the end of March (weather permitting) but we stop taking orders for Beech (Fagus sylvatica), especially the taller plants, a little bit before the season ends because Beech is slightly more difficult to establish.  So, please please please don’t leave it until the end of March to place your order.  We also run out of some species in some sizes so if you’ve got a clear view of what plants you want please order in advance – we can reserve the plants and hold your order until you’re ready to have them delivered.

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Attracting birds to a hedge

Just as we all look forward to Spring, so do the birds – they’ve survived many weeks of harsh winter weather and food shortages and although most birds will not start building their nests until March, they spend many weeks making exploratory visits, checking out suitable nesting sites – and we hope that many of the mixed native hedging that our customers have bought from Hedges Direct will contain bird’s nests.

There are 3 main ways to make a hedge attractive to birds. The first is to make it thick at the bottom to provide the cover they like for scratching about in the darker recesses for insects, especially in winter when the surrounding ground is frozen. The carpet of dead leaves and fallen fruits generally will remain unfrozen to offer much needed food when birds need extra food simply to maintain their body temperature for survival. The thickness of the hedge also provides a valuable shelter from cold weather.

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