Beeches: Beech hedges

Discussion in 'Fagaceae (beeches, oaks, etc.)' started by LFH, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. LFH

    LFH Member

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    Over the last couple of years I have vacationed in France and England, and in each case have seen gardens partitioned by beech hedges, which are very attractive. These hedges are I believe fagus sylvatica (though I have also seen hedges made of hornbeam). I have seen these planted in double or triple rows, spaced about 2' apart, staggered. Although most of what I read online indicates that f. sylvatica is slow growing, that is not what I am told when I have discussed the plant with owners there, on site. It seems fairly fast growing to me. My question is, does anyone have any experience with the use of this plant, or its american variant, f. grandifolia, for hedging in the eastern U.S., zones 5-7? I am particularly interested in using something like this as I have a tremendous deer predation problem, and have several f. grandifolia and one f. sylvatica pendula, none of which have ever been damaged. Also, from what I have seen in Europe, I would tend to think that the mature hedge would be all but impenetrable to deer.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It is moderate growth - faster than e.g. Box or Holly or Yew, but slower than e.g. Leyland Cypress. Young European Beech will grow about 40-50cm/year in good conditions. Obviously as a hedge, you'll need to shear it annually.

    American Beech is a little slower growing; I've not heard of it being used as a hedge but it might be worth a try.
     
  3. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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  4. MarcelB

    MarcelB Member

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    The Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa (Canada) boasts a collection of hedges dating back to 1897. One of those is a beautiful (and quite large) beech hedge (Fagus grandifolia). This hedge is simply spectacular with its gnarled roots base protruding from the ground. In winter it keeps its dried leaves for quite some time.
    I'll take some pictures and try to post them later (can we post pictures on these forums?- I'm new here).

    If you have a deer problem you might want to try a spleeched hawthorn hedge. I've seen this used at the C.E.F in the past. This is an old technique used in Europe where hawthorns (for their thorns) are used to form impenetrable hedges. Young hawthorns are planted close together and branches are cut partway through then bent horizontally and interwoven in each other. As they grow, it forms a totally impenetrable hedge with large thorns.

    I know deer will eat crabapples and I know that hawthorns are related to crabs, but I can't imagine deer eating their way through a hawthorn hedge.
     
  5. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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    Weeelll my goats are Partial to a bit of Hawthorn :) me thinks the deer may have the same technique for eating them. But your right they probably will not be able to get through.

    Re pleached technique you describe (thanks for the name) I saw this on some really ancient hedges in U,K. amazing thickness. My property has some remnent Hawthorn hedging. Mostly it grows tall to give the parrots their autumn food but I did do the pleached along a section of hunded year old barbwire fencing to keep it intact and it is working nicely. Everything is knitting together into a solid mass. Here in Australia the Hawthorn was used by the early settlers as fencing. The climate suits it well and it grows firmly and realitivley quickly as it does not face the real cold winters. It also manages the dry and heat of summer well. It seems to be well contained unlike the gorse that took off. This makes me think the grazing animals keep plucking the new young seedlings

    Liz
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2008
  6. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I think that the term purported here as "spleeched" might be better proposed as 'pleached'. If they are synonymous terms then I apologize for the interference.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleaching
     
  7. MarcelB

    MarcelB Member

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    You're absolutely right Jimmy. And sorry about the confused terminology Liz. But the correct term is pleaching.
    As I was lying in bed last night, the word came to me and I realized I might have used the wrong term. It was a long time ago that I was exposed to this technique (back in the early '80s) so please forgive my forgetfulness.
    Oh well, no harm done, just more conversation.
     
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    MarcelB - absolutely you can post images - and it sounds like a marvelous plant, so please do.

    How to Attach Images
     
  9. GreenLarry

    GreenLarry Active Member

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    I understand that you can only prune beech once a year as they only put out one set of leaves.
     
  10. nic

    nic Active Member

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    And they keep their autumn leaves over the winter when grown as a hedge. (Possibly not the "big hedge" at Meiklour, I've not been past it in winter). They go a good rich brown, too.
     
  11. GreenLarry

    GreenLarry Active Member

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    Yes they keep their leaves till spring,but not just when grown as hedges. Mature big trees too.
     
  12. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Only on low branches close to the trunk! Most mature beeches are leafless after November. Generally, marcescence (retention of dead leaves on the shoots over winter) in beech is only shown by a conical 'juvenile zone' about 2-3m tall and broad from the base of a tree.
     
  13. GreenLarry

    GreenLarry Active Member

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    Why do you think that happens like that michael? Why not the whole tree keeping its leaves?
     
  14. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sorry, don't know! There's a lot of speculation in various books, but no hard information.
     
  15. GreenLarry

    GreenLarry Active Member

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    Maybe its a way of protecting young growth that isn't as tough as mature growth.
     
  16. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That's one of the suggestions; another is that dead foliage makes it look less appetising to browsing mammals.
     
  17. nic

    nic Active Member

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    Whatever the reason, it adds to its charm as a hedge.
    I've often wondered if one could treat oak the same way. Not that I've the space for either.
     
  18. GreenLarry

    GreenLarry Active Member

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    Yea thats another good example of plant defence. I find this kind of study fascinating,plant physiology.
     
  19. DeZwaan Nurseries

    DeZwaan Nurseries Member

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    I understand that Fagus as well as Quercus keep there leaves during the winter to protect the bark from sun damage specialy at a younger age.
     
  20. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That's another of the many theories. But since it often occurs in shady situations, it isn't a well-supported theory.
     
  21. MarcelB

    MarcelB Member

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    Here in Ottawa at the Central Experimental Farm old hedge collection dating back to 1897, there are hedges with American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), English Oak (Quercus robur) and shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) which all retain their dried leaves overwinter, dropping them only when new growth starts in spring.
    I will go for a visit and see if there are other beech or oak species hedges and maybe take a few pictures.
     

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