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Lonicera nitida. This is another evergreen or semi-evergreen with tiny, round leaves and a rapid growth habit which can give you an unending job for the whole of the summer. You can take cuttings easily from friends’ hedges — indeed, clippings dropped on to the soil and not cleared up will root where they lie. Against it is its untidy habit — it gets woody in the middle with a lot of dead stalks ail through the bush, but it can be cut back quite hard if it gets into too bad a state and it will shoot again. It is useless for tall hedges as it flops if it gets too high.

Hawthorn (quickthorn). This is another easily obtained hedge but is considerably more useful, as close-planted it can be an animal deterrent. It grows fairly rapidly and should be cut back early in life in order to encourage it to bush out. It can be allowed to grow to almost any height and reduced virtually to ground level if required. It is spiny but if clipped regularly, usually in early summer and again in the autumn, this will not become a problem. Neglected quickthorn hedges can be ‘laid’ by half splitting the trunks and bending them over at an angle, supported by sticks. The result of this is to thicken the base. It is a craftsman’s job, but worth it. If you cannot find a hedge layer in your district, your local branch of the Agricultural Training Board (see Yellow Pages) may be able to put you in touch with someone, as they organize hedging courses in certain areas.

Hawthorn hedges attract a number of insect pests, including caterpillars. Occasionally young shoots are affected by mildew, but these are usually cut off when trimming.

Blackthorn (sloe) makes a similar hedge to quickthorn, with the same advantages and disadvantages. It can be mixed with quickthorn to form the basis of an English-style mixed hedge, together with field maple.


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