This week, a large, long cardboard box was delivered to the cottage. The box housed a hundred bare root hedging plants; a mix of 50 native hedging, and 50 rosa rubrifolia glauca – a shrub rose, with grey leaves and deep pink, scented single flowers.
Thus, Thursday evening after work found us making the most of the longer evening hours as we worked swiftly to dig as many plants as we could into a staggered double row along the ten metre strip on our southern boundary. Just as the light faded from the sky, we managed to complete the border, using mostly the native hedging, which is a mix of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), Hazel (Corylus avellana), Common Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) and Field Maple (Acer campestre), interspersed with the rose.
The remaining plants we heeled into part of the vegetable patch (which still awaits weeding and digging), by digging a trench and laying the plants at a 45 degree angle before covering their roots back up with soil. This is a longer term method for storing bare root plants before planting out, though not recommended for more than a few days.
This weekend gave us the opportunity to finish the job: mulching the hedging plants, and planting the remaining plants in the sparse hawthorn hedge at the bottom of the garden, to fill the gaps.
When digging out the original bloated lonicera nitida hedge from this boundary last week, we found a thick hawthorn stem, about five feet high, that grew up through the knitted brittle stems in the centre of the hedge. We dug this out, planting it temporarily in the vegetable patch while the digger moved in, before incorporating it back into the boundary as we planted the bare root hedging. This weekend, we were also finally able to give our ‘new’ silver birch, betula utilis var. jacquemontii ‘Trinity College’, a permanent home; planting it just forward of this new hedge, a few feet from the existing birch that sways gently beside the shed.
Since opening up this boundary has exposed us to the prevailing winds that fly unfettered across the fields ( and such strong winds they have been this week!) we also drove a stake into the planting hole at 45 degrees to the birch on the boundary side, and tied the tree to the stake with a figure-of-eight of twine to help it withstand the winds.
It is the very end of the season for bare root plants, and indeed some of the hedging was already breaking into bud before we even unpacked it, but hopefully with attentive watering and nurture, it will establish into a fine native hedge, to shelter us from the wind and grazing animals, and provide a new home for local wildlife.
In the meantime, both Willow and Xander have been happily investigating the existing trees in the garden. Here I caught Willow halfway up the beech tree, which is yet to break into leaf. A few hours earlier both Xander and Willow could be seen racing up (and down!) the hawthorn tree at the end of the garden, just at the right of this shot.
This week, two bundles of bare root beech hedging plants are due to be delivered, and we shall spend another evening or two doing it all over again, digging in a new staggered hedge across the front boundary of our front garden. Just in the nick of time.