I’m probably starting to develop a bit of a reputation around here for being into some odd topics. But - here we go, anyway.
My husband and I own 10 acres that we’re gradually trying to mold into a little independent farmstead. Part of this plan involves the installation of a British-style laid hedge along the North and East boundaries. Toward that end, I have been studying the usual sources. I’d intended to go to a workshop last Spring, which will hopefully be rescheduled when travel is a good option again. (As a small aside, Dr. Jim Jones has relocated from the UK to Ontario and is trying to kickstart a North American Hedgelaying Society).
But laying the hedge will come a while down the road. First will come planting. So, what sorts of native plants would be useful and appropriate in this application?
Some parameters for the hedge:
I would like it to eventually be able to contain at least sheep.
I’d also like it to serve as a source of forage for both us and wildlife.
I would like to NOT have to worry excessively about it housing diseases that would spread to my fruit trees, other plants, or the 700+ black walnut trees.
I would like for this not to cost the Earth, even though I need quite a bit of biologic material to make it go. I’m fine with using small whips and waiting for them to grow large enough to lay the hedge. And I intend to plant a double row, so a little die-off shouldn’t put enormous holes in it, especially if it happens early and I can fill in.
I’m pretty confident that the bird will sit in it and “plant” plenty of wild raspberries, so I wasn’t intending to start with any deliberately place unless there are specific varieties you feel would be a big bonus.
While British hedges tend to be only laid, and those hedges left on the continent are primarily only coppiced, I keep tripping over references to laid and coppiced hedges. I’d like to try to find out more about and possible revive this technique. So, consider also trees that could be incorporated as coppice or pollard specimens within the hedge. I’m already planning pollarded ash trees both as part of a silvopasture system and as tree hay.
Extra bonus points for plants like Holly that can both be useful in a hedge and cut to bring inside for decoration.
No to the idea of Osage Orange. Also no Autumn/Russian olives. They’re an invasive here, and I already have a battle on my hands to reclaim much of the rest of the meadow from them. Plus they’re brittle, which would seem like an advantage to getting rid of them, but not so much.
What species do you recommend? Are there particular concerns? Specific varieties that are disease or pest resistant? Sources for buying them in quantity?