The root of 3: Three plants that look good together: Crataegus monogyna Ilex aquifolium Acer campestre

As a rule, hedges are best kept to just one variety of plant. The strong visual impact of a well-kept, well-cut line of box or beech or yew owes much to its unbroken uniformity. This rule has its many exceptions, and one of them is when a more "natural" look is required, perhaps to blend in with a rural setting.

In this situation, a mixture of native hedgerow species can work well. Hedgerows are an ancient part of the landscape, and the older they are, the more species they contain. There are many to choose from, all with evocative names: cherry-plum, crack-willow, guelder-rose, sweetbrier, spindle and buckthorn.

The hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, is one of the most common and one of the best deciduous hedgerow shrubs. It was once believed that its creamy- white flowers carried the smell of the Great Plague of London, that its branches furnished the Crown of Thorns and that dreadful consequences would result from bringing its blossom indoors. It has small, lobed leaves, which are the freshest of spring greens when they first unfurl, and its frothy blossom is followed by bright red berries.

In the changing seasonal tapestry of a mixed hedge the familiar, glossy- green, prickly leaves of the holly, Ilex aquifolium, provide a constant, evergreen thread. The tradition of bringing the branches of evergreen trees inside in winter is an ancient one, and holly, in particular, with its red berries, was held as a symbol of fertility and a protection against witchcraft.

The final plant in this trio is the field maple, Acer campestre. Left alone, it can make a small tree, possibly up to 30ft high, but more usually it forms a rounded shrub. It has finely fissured, corky bark, winged seeds and blunt-lobed leaves that turn the brightest yellow of any of our native trees in autumn.

As you might expect of native plants, the hawthorn, holly and field maple are all utterly hardy. They will put up with a wide range of different soils and grow in sun or medium shade. For a good thick hedge, space the young plants about 1.5ft apart in two parallel rows, allowing 1ft between the rows. Water and feed well, especially in the first years.

John the Gardener

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

    £18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Web Developer - Magento

    £28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Greater London - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Ric...

    SThree: IT Recruitment Consultant

    £22500 - £30000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking for experie...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat