The Westonbirt Arboretum newsletter came in the post this morning and it’s got an interesting article on the native tree trail. Of Westonbirt’s 2500 tree varieties, only 30 to 40 are native – that is a species that crossed into the UK from Europe, when we were still connected, after the last ice age. Increasingly planning departments are specifying native planting for new developments and although we’re massive fans of native hedging, we wonder sometimes if all planners realise that so few species are native – and hardly any evergreen species. The two evergreens that jump to mind as being native are Yew (Taxus baccata) and Holly (Ilex aquifolium) – both fantastic but both quite slow growing and as a result of that, both quite expensive. It’s time planning departments or government loosened up the rules a bit to allow beautiful, wildlife friendly, evergreens that are not native – Escallonia, Berberis darwinii or Berberis stenophylla, Osmanthus (I have this in my own garden and it’s wonderful), Pyracantha, some Cotoneaster varieties, Olearia, and the deliciously scented Choisya – a lovely range of evergreen flowering (and some berrying) hedging plants, not one of them native.