High, wide and handsome | Britain’s best hedges

Here’s hoping you’ve had a healthy hedging season and you’re raring to dive into your Winter hedge care and planting plans.  We’ve just the thing for you later – some winter hedge care help to keep you in trim.

But first, in honour of your hedge triumphs this season and to celebrate Grown in Britain Week, we’ve compiled a little compendium of High, Wide and Handsome Hedges for you to aim for – all grown in Britain!

meikleour tallest hedgeBritain’s Longest Hedge

The Meikleour Beech Hedge, just south of Blairgowrie in Scotland is not only the longest hedge in Britain – it’s the tallest of its kind in the world.  Planted in 1745 it is a third of a mile long and 100 feet high – that’s 530 metres by 30 metres.  Originally said to have been planted by men who went off to fight in the Jacobite Rebellion, the plants were left to grow as the soldiers never returned from battle.  The hedge is now tended to every decade by a team of four people.  The hedge is cut and re-measured and the job takes about six weeks from start to finish.  Just think of them next time you take out the trimmers!

UKs widest hedge Bathurst EstateBritain’s Widest Hedge

You can probably see to your hedging haircut in an afternoon.  Then spare a thought for the two-man team and their cherry picker that take a week to spruce up the UK’s widest hedge on an estate near Cirencester.

Owned by Lord Bathurst, the semi-circular 300-year-old 40 feet high yew hedge costs over £6K to maintain a year.  A real “snip”!

Longleat MazeBritain’s Trickiest Hedge

Longleat’s hedge maze sits in the estate’s 8000 acres and is the longest and most complex hedge maze in the world (but not the largest – that’s the Peace Maze in Castlewellan Forest Park in Northern Ireland, apparently).  Longleat’s world-renowned maze cover nearly 1.5 acres and over 1.5 miles of meandering mazeways – and there’s many a dead-end amongst the 16,000 English yew trees.

Hampton Court MazeBritain’s Oldest Hedge

The most likely contender for UK’s Oldest Hedge is at Hampton Court, London.  The Palace Maze is said to be Britain’s oldest surviving hedge maze, planted for King William III of Orange in the late 17th century.  It was originally planted as hornbeam but has been patched and replanted over the years with many different hedging varieties.

Winter Hedge Care

If you trim a hedge regularly, the growth becomes denser with many smaller shoots, not just one dominant leader.  If your hedge flowers in the first half of the year, it will be flowering on wood grown in the previous season.  If you prune these after the Summer, you’re likely to get lots of new growth but no flowers.  On the other hand, if your hedge flowers in the second half of the year, it’ll be flowering on this year’s new growth so you can continue trimming in winter.  Cutting will create strong new growth and won’t hold back the flowers.  Be cautious with evergreens such as yew, holly and box though.  If winter weather conditions are mild, the evergreens will keep growing, and any new growth might suffer if a harsh frost follows – best leave the trimming till the spring.

And remember, always trim so that the base of the hedge is wider than the top, i.e. the sides taper down to a wider base.  Why? So that the top of the hedge doesn’t overshadow the bottom and restrict its growth.  And always, ALWAYS, check for wildlife nestling in your hedgerow, whatever the season.

Whilst the winter might not be the busiest time for hedge trimming, it’s absolutely the best time for hedge planting.  You can pre-order now and get your 15% discount, with your plants ready for delivery from mid-November.

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