A drive through the Irish countryside in autumn can be a real treat as native hedgerows display their jewel coloured treasures – ruby haws and rosehips, glowing blackberries, and sloes and elderberries gleaming blue. Soon the leaves will be changing colour too, and the quirky spindle, hiding in plain sight for the last few months, will blaze into fiery colour – each little dangling berry reminding us, with its pink casing and orange centre, that fashionistas might think they invented the colour clash, but nature got there first.
There are some really good reasons for including a native hedge in your own garden, so with hedge planting season coming up soon, it’s a good time to consider some of them.
For starters, you can be sure that any shrub able to hold its own in a native hedgerow will be tough – able to tolerate a reasonable amount of competition from neighbours, as well as the worst of Irish winter weather. In very exposed, windy areas, especially by the sea, some of our hardy natives will thrive where others simply won’t be able to.
Many of my clients favour a wilder look too – at least in large gardens, where there is space to blend it with a tidier space close to the house – and a native hedge is always worth considering if a wild garden look appeals to you. It will make a good backdrop to a wildflower meadow, and is also a good way to help your boundary blend into the wider area in which your property sits, allowing a seamless flow between garden and countryside beyond.
I’m finding too that there’s a greater awareness now of issues like habitat loss and the need to provide food and shelter for wildlife – and a native hedge provides all of these, right throughout the year. Food sources for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, berries for birds to eat, and nesting and sheltering places are only a few of the benefits.
With so many to choose from though, how do you know which blend of plants will work for your individual space? Easy – just check out the next post, and all will be revealed!