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.