1. January Species
Our hedging plant of the month is the native Beech. Beech is a deciduous hedging plant that is common in many gardens in the UK. Even though it is deciduous, beech does retain it’s wintery leaves until the new growth of fluttery green leaves in the spring.
Beech is relatively fast growing, at about 30-60cm per annum so it does need to be trimmed in late Summer/early Autumn. The Autumn clipping is essential for the leaf coverage to be retained throughout Winter.
Fagus sylvatica likes sun or partial shade and does well on almost any well-drained soil (acid or alkaline), but is not suitable for heavy clay or wet sites where Hornbeam hedging (a very similar looking leaf and a species which also goes copper coloured in Autumn) is a more successful option – see also our full range of native hedging plants. Though it is suitable for windy sites and is suitable as a dense windbreak hedge, it may not keep all of its winter leaves in very exposed (particularly coastal) positions.
Beech forms a super formal hedge but its also a very good component in a native mixed hedge providing some winter colour and an important wildlife shelter when the remainder of the fully deciduous hedge loses its leaves. If you are looking for Purple Beech hedging (often called Copper Beech), please click here.
2. Gardening Advice
Continue to plant bare-root deciduous hedging plants and trees. Stakes should be put in place before the root ball to avoid damage to the roots. You can move established deciduous trees and shrubs, provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.
Take note of the most vibrant dogwoods (Cornus), Salix and white-stemmed Rubus shrubs for a display of coloured stems. Seek out scented winter shrubs, such as Hamamelis ,Sarcococca and Chimonanthus, when visiting gardens open to the public, or in garden centres, and consider planting them for a winter display.
Pruning and renovation of many deciduous trees, shrubs and hedges can be carried out from now throughout the dormant season. It is easier to see what you are doing when the branches have no leaves. Suitable examples are re: Fagus (beech), Corylus (hazel) and roses. Exceptions are evergreens and tender plants (best left until spring), and Prunus species (e.g. ornamental cherries, plums and almonds) as these are vulnerable to silver leaf disease when pruned in autumn or winter.
Prune Wisteria – cut back the sideshoots shortened by summer pruning to two or three buds. Avoid cutting off flower buds.
3. Garden Design
Just because January can be dull and miserable, that doesn’t mean your gardens have to be! This month why not introduce some strong colours into your gardens by adding Dogwood (Cornus). Dogwoods are very hardy and do well in sunny sites or partial shade and especially in moist areas.