Winter is the perfect time to plant trees and this week I wanted to write about edible hedgerows that are great for wildlife and great for us to! If you have been considering growing a hedge but have got yourself stuck into thinking it will need to be boxwood, privet or leylandii then stop right there.
There are so many alternative shrubs and trees that can be used that will produce food as well as that all important barrier that you are looking for. Hedges are great not just as a boundary but they will provide wind protection, offer privacy, dampen noise and provide a much nicer backdrop than the usual wooden panel fencing. Hedgerows are also brilliant for wildlife, providing shelter and food for bugs, birds and mammals.
Some trees and shrubs that you can use in your edible hedgerow include blackthorn (for the sloes), hawthorn, crab apple, guelder rose, hazel, cherry and rowan (and many more). You can also use fruit trees and train them along the hedge line. The cherry plum are fast growing trees and were traditionally planted to create orchard shelter belts. They are possibly some of the first purpose-planted edible hedgerows.
Using plants like dog rose with their beautiful big flowers in the summer and fat red hips in the winter not only provides colour and interest but provides food for pollinating insects and the birds later on.
Winter is the best time to plant a hedgerow, you just need to clear the area of grass and other plants (dare I say weeds) before you begin and make sure not to plant them too densely. You will need to keep them well watered during the first year and keep the ‘weeds’ at bay to give your hedgerow the best opportunity to establish.
Laura Preston, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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