PLANTIING A `TRADITIONAL' HEDGE

 

Here it is again: "I want to plant a traditional hedge. What should I put in and what should I not put in?"

This is to keep animals in and people out. She knows, of course, to start off with hawthorn and blackthorn.

The latter, when grown a bit, is as good as that steel, razor like barbed wire used in super security situations.

You can go to extreme in the case of hawthorn, of course, by cutting back and cutting back so that after decades you have what looks like an almost continuous row of fencing posts. Hardly any foliage. You'll see that in the drumlin country after you leave Newry on your, way to Belfast by road.

But this woman wants it to look good as well as keeping people out and animals in. And anyway, it will be long enough before she is cuttings back. Next, holly. Not too much of it, but for looks as well as protection. She'll have brambles, of course, thanks to the natural propensities of birds, perhaps without really wanting them. She could put in some dog rose. Many of the wayside hedges have them. Would her few horses and ponies eat honeysuckle? They can be held back by the usual fencing to keep them from scratching themselves, if necessary.

Most hedges have trees along their length. Ash is the most common in this eastern part. Her hedge is to be about a hundred metres, so six trees might be enough. Ash whips are not hard to come by, and she won't have to start pruning them for many years. Maybe, for old time's sake, ie the old times of only a couple of centuries ago, when whins were the number one hedging plant, she'll put in one anyway, for a spot of lively colour. Or even one crab apple tree. Well, that would make a rather elaborate "traditional" hedge, but it's traditional in that all the elements can be found in home hedges, though seldom all together. Some one is going to say: if you're going for a mixture of home favourites don't forget the arbutus. And some will add elder. The birds will probably see to it that this will soon appear. And of course, ivy. One thing is for sure. it will be slow growing. But is interesting to watch and admire as a stand of trees.