Along the property line runs a quite road and currently we have a post and wire fence but we would like to put in a proper hedge. A hedge would create a wind break for the area where we will put the kitchen garden and also act as a screen at night to stop the headlights of the odd passing car washing onto the property.
For this hedge I have a few criteria I am looking to fulfil. Firstly, it needs to be a diverse mix of species that attracts wildlife. Secondly, it needs to earn its keep and by that I mean of course it needs to be productive, so edible species need to be part of the mix.
It is a fairly long stretch that we need to hedge and therefore buying semi mature plants is not really an option. Having looked at the various plants available there are a couple of keys ones that I definitely want to introduce:
The Elder Flower (Sambucus Nigra) comes in a few different varieties with green, golden or dark leaves and is excellent for making cordials and champagne! The Blackthorn and Damson would also be good for making alcoholic drinks in the form of Sloe Gin or Damson Brandy. The Crab Apple would be good for jellies and jams as would the Blackberry and obviously the Hazel produces nuts.
The one other plant that I am really keen to add are Szechuan Pepper plants. I only recently discovered that these make a really good looking shrub perfect for hedging that has glossy green leaves and produces bright orange to red berries. These berries can be dried to give you Szechuan peppercorns, a mainstay of Chinese cooking, particularly Kung Poa dishes.
I am going to experiment with some recipes including Szechuan and will post the result on the food section on this site in the coming weeks.
Trying to find a source for the variety of plants I want to include in my hedge has proved difficult and anything other than bare root plants are expensive. So, I am going to opt for the bare roots and suffer the inevitable higher plant failure rate as this should still work out better value for money. As I have plenty of time to establish the hedge I also plan to raise some of the plants from seeds and managed to find Szechuan Pepper seeds via Chiltern Seeds in the UK.