Now that autumn is underway it’s time to think about how we can make our gardens more wildlife friendly and one of my favourite ways of doing this is by planting a native, wild hedge. The perscribed clipped privet or box hedge doesn’t suit all gardens or gardeners, and can be time consuming to maintain. A native hedge has the advantage of being low maintenance, beautiful, practical and wildlife friendly.
Native hedgerows are the perfect place for wildlife such as birds, hedgehogs and insects as well as providing a practical boundary. A majority of native plants such hawthorn, dog rose and hazel are very hardy and even better many of them contain edible and medicinal flowers, fruit or leaves making them ideal for the self sufficient or thrifty gardener.
Hawthorn grows at a fast pace and makes a good choice as the main hedge plant. If clipped annually it will create an impenetrable boundary as well as a safe place for birds to roost. For the prettiest and most wildlife friendly option mix in other small trees and shrubs such as guelder rose, seabuckthorn, blackthorn and elder. I also adore to add in the intensely fragrant honeysuckle and rose and these are firm favourites of pollinators too.
The most cost effective way of growing a native hedgerow is to use whips. These scraggly young plants may not look very impressive at first but they soon establish in their new home. Once you’ve chosen where to place your hedge simply dig in, your young hedgerow plants in a staggered double row giving each whip approx 1/2 metre gap between the next one.
Make sure you give them a decent watering in to help establish the roots. Dog rose and honeysuckle are also firm favourites of mine. Both supply the DIY herbalist with flowers for making into herbal honeys and syrups while they also provide scent to the garden and also food for pollinators.
Before you know it you will have welcomed a plethora of wildlife into your rewarded garden and have a beautiful hedgerow to boot.