1 April 2013 - 12:00am

Planting a 'native' hedge

In an effort to keep our new large dog in the garden we’ve had to have some new fences built. It does make some of the garden feel different, so I’ve been thinking of ways to use the new structures to good effect. One idea I’m toying with is to plant a native hedge next to the fence. When I say native, I really mean natural looking – I’m not about to plant a scruffy, boring row of shrubs. My hedgerow would also have to have some really pretty climbing plants. So what to choose? I love holly, and it would give some winter interest as well as berries for the birds. We have beech elsewhere in the garden so that would look good and fit in. Hawthorn is one of my favourite trees and comes with white, pink or red flowers; it grows quickly too so would tick that box. A shrub rose or two would be lovely and provide some fragrance as would some honeysuckle. A few hazelnut cuttings added in and I think I have a plan. When it’s established, It could all be cut at the same time to keep it in check. Or how about a rosemary hedge? I saw one out and about recently, it was lovely: it had been kept well trimmed and was thick and a healthy grey/green. But unfortunately it wouldn’t like our heavy clay soil, so perhaps not. Worth a try in a sunny, well drained spot though? I’ll get small, bare root plants, give them a good soak, prepare the soil really well with some garden compost and keep them well watered and mulched. I’ll need to protect the stems or they will be expensive rabbit food. All I’ve got to do now is get on with it! Now is the time to weed and tidy – do it now and you will reap the benefit all summer. Don’t be afraid to thin out your self seeders such as poppies and forget me not. If you give them some space they will grow much better and will be less likely to end up straggly or covered in mildew. Watch out for the red lily beetle and the Virburnum beetle: they come out in force in April and are best caught early before the little blighters do their worst. Don’t be tempted to buy tender bedding plants until you are ready. I’m convinced garden centres put them out for sale early to give us time to kill off the first lot and have to buy another load – yes, you can call me cynical! Or buy a packet of seed – much cheaper and more fun. Some seed companies also do little plug plants – a kind of half-way house between sowing seed and buying plants ready to go in the garden. They are often cheap and good quality, I often get tobacco plants like this. All you have to do is put them into a larger pot, and give them some warmth until ready to plant out, usually in June. Talking of June we are opening on this year on the afternoons of Sunday 23rd and 30th June for a change. So please put the dates in your diary and come and see us! Photos l to r - variegated holly and Gibbs our 4 legged escape artist.