Borderline

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.

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12 thoughts on “Borderline

  1. That hedge will be beautiful, with all the blossom, and great for wildlife too, hope the winds are kind to you!

    • Thank you. Fingers firmly crossed! We still need to talk to the farmer and possibly devise some protection from grazing cows if they go back into the field soon…

  2. what a wonderfull idea for a hedging .. i can almost see it .. good work on getting at getting all the plants in the ground ..

  3. Sara, hard work after a day at work but will be well worth it in the years to come, I know all about strong winds and there have been some recently with more on the way, at least up here, I imagine the kittens are really enjoying their new found freedom on the outside, Frances

    • Hi Frances, the winds have been very strong here too (even bricks couldn’t hold down some of the tarpaulins that took off up the lane). I had to fight a little for this hedge, as my husband would have been happy with a fence, which would have given us an immediate windbreak back, but I held out for the hedge – even more reason to hope that it works! Yes, the cats are loving the garden (and fields beyond, I suspect). Sara x

  4. Sara; I respect your choice of plants! How nice that you have gone for those traditional species. Hope you managed OK with the roses – I had some of those in my last property, and I think I still have the thorns in my fingers!

    • Thanks Mark. The plant varieties reflect the hedges that bound the fields around us, so hopefully our hedge will blend in with the surroundings in time, with the odd extra splash of pink from the not so native rose! We managed to avoid being prickled too much when planting out the thorny ones so far, though I think I did offer to be in charge of trimming this hedge when my husband expressed concern at the amount of thorny varieties in it that would attack him! I may be investing in some gauntlets in the future!

  5. How wonderful Sara, I’ve been watching the native hedge planted around the allotment site break into blossom and bud, I think they are wonderful things to have, and I love that you have mingled the rose in amongst it. It will be wonderful to watch it fill out over the years, a great investment. Oh, and tell your other half that hedges give much better protection from the wind because of the way they diffuse the force rather than stopping it dead…

    • I love how the hedges around us are burgeoning with dreamy white blackthorn blossom and bright green spring leaves, it will be such a welcome sight to repeat that in the garden in future years! Already, the hazel plants have lovely fat green clusters breaking, and the hawthorn that we saved from the site is brightly speckled with its new growth. Indeed I shall pass on your tip on the superior windstopping properties of hedge vs fence – I think that my husband is quite happy with the choice now though. You don’t get hazel nuts from a fence! 🙂 He just reminded me that I would have to plant up the borders being mindful that we may lose plants to the driving winds in the first year or two as the hedge establishes…

    • Hello Mike, thank you for your encouragement; the rosa was a bit of a gamble but I have hope for it rambling through the hedges. I shall report on the progress of the hedge through the seasons! A chat with the farmer last night elicited that we have until the end of the week to protect our new proteges from the return of nibbling cows to the field, so defence plans are afoot as I write…

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