Great Uncle Hamish had a robust attitude to hedging. His mantra was “Plant thorns. Nothing else keeps out the tourists.” Few, if any tourists ventured across the drenched moorland to the boundaries of castle Tavish, but Great Uncle Hamish kept his hedges in top condition, just in case.
Most of my hedging is beech, as wind is more of a problem here than tourists will ever be, and beech is a better windbreak than thorn. But the old man’s ghost must have been hovering over me at a garden centre a few years ago, and I came home with a bundle of hawthorn (crataegus) and blackthorn (prunus spinosa) (also known as sloe) seedlings.
There’s nothing wrong with hawthorn as a hedging plant, except that the prunings puncture the tires of my garden tractor. Blackthorn is a different matter.
Here’s nature’s secret larder’s pictures of blackthorn in early spring. Looks wonderful, doesn’t it?
And here is mine, a little later in the year.The new growth can be kept under control with a hedge trimmer. But nothing can keep control of these:I was too ignorant, and too impressed by Uncle Hamish’s love of thorns to do my research. Blackthorn makes thickets, and it does so by throwing out suckers. And these suckers are growing up through my raised bed of strawberries, at least eight feet from the hedge. And there are dozens of them! Yes, you can pull them out one by one, you can rub weedkiller all over them, you can curse the day you listened to your Great Uncle…nothing is going to stop this invasion.
I think I am resigned to having a blackthorn thicket where I once had strawberries. Please, dear reader, never, never, think this will make a nice hedging plant unless you have several windy acres between it and the nearest thing you care for.