Planting Out: Hedges and Perennials

It has been the first time in weeks that we have been able to get out in the garden. A mix of bad weather, rain, snow and then heavy frosts have kept us indoors. It has turned the ground from slush, to mud, to a mire to glass concrete. So, Andrew today has been outdoors in the orchard and by the glasshouse planting more hornbeam hedges to act as a windbreak.

Combating bad grass in a new orchard without the need to dig it all up and start again.


The planting of a bare rooted hedge at this time of year is incredibly easy. It is also cheaper than buying container plants and in half an hour you get a hedge in that will be with you for years. Andrew took the turf up in the orchard with a border spade. This turf was never great to start with and overrun by couch grass and then used some of this years spent growbags to enrich the soil. Though it won't add many nutrients, the courgettes sucked most of these out, it is a way to improve soil structure and lighten up heavy soils. At Pig Row we run from sandy soil to peat and by the time we come to the orchard we are in heavy waterlogged soils. 

Laying the groundwork for a hornbeam hedge.

After digging over the patch and adding the compost, Andrew planted the hornbeam eighteen inches apart in staggered rows, twelve inches between each of them. Firming them down. He then pruned the top growth back by a third to a half. As we have problems with invasive grass in the orchard, it seemed only natural to turn to a wild flower to help us out. Yellow Rattle is parasitic and slows the growth of grass, allowing us to slowly turn the grass in the orchard over to wild flowers, we have a number of cowslips we want to naturalise into the grass here and the Rattle will help us introduce them and hopefully many more wild flowers will be added to the orchard over the years. These will nestle beside our proposed bee bank which will run beside our hawthorn, hazel and sloe hedge. We are introducing the sloe in the new year. More on that soon.

Sowing yellow rattle in an errant lawn. Put away the lawnmower and get a balance in your grass.

Rattle is easy to sow, we roughed up the grass and sowed them before running back and forth across it. You can just tread them down but it was cold and a quick run keeps the blood pumping. A wonderful discovery was that our hellebore has started to grow again by the arch and it is putting on great growth beside the now dead sweet pea wigwam.

We are new to hellebores and previous attempts have been a failure, so we are delighted that this one is growing!

The paeonia we bought at Gardeners' World Live 2012 is now in the ground after many attempts to get it in the soil.

Planting of a paeonia.

Just shows that in a few hours, you can plant a hedge, some perennials, sow some Yellow Rattle, hoe a patch of weed infested soil and come in and have a hot cup of tea.