Pruning the hornbeam
The photos accompanying this newsletter were taken yesterday and show Mitch, our master-gardener, finishing off one of the more ambitious jobs we have ever tackled: after 25 years it became time to renovate our hornbeam hedges. These were, in fact, the first hedges we ever planted in Cloudehill. The trees went into their newly created beds in July of 1992, and after all that time and only this summer they shot up past the reach of even a very agile and admirably daring gardener standing on a very high rung of our (very high) tripod ladder equipped with a pole-hedger fully-extended. Anyone visiting the second half of this summer will have noticed the tops of these hedges waving in the breeze and looking very shaggy.
As you can see, the hornbeams wave no longer! Indeed, here I am almost understating the case. Our hedges have been cut back by almost three metres and now we sit back and watch for a season or two to see how quickly they respond. Actually I'm pretty confident there will be a good deal of growth this summer, though to fill in properly most likely will take them two full summers. And as soon as the tops fill in, then we tackle the sides! I suspect this will take a further two years. In other words, the entire schedule should be -
2017 - the top comes off.
2019 - the internal sides to be cut right back to the trunks.
2020 - the external sides to be cut back similarly!
and by 2022 they will be looking just as they were a few years back when Claire Takacs took the photo below in 2005.
This all goes to under-line what I feel is the theme of Cloudehill: gardeners need to be long-lived! Still, 25 years of steady growth, that's not too bad. Once fully cut back, they should be good for another 25 years and by that time I don't think it's going to be me doing the job.
Anyone wanting to visit to talk about the joys of hedging, please feel free. I'm planning to spend this winter (which so far has been very nice) tucked next to the heater in the purple-pink shipping container at the rear of Seasons Restaurant. Hedges are great fun to chat about and I'll be here.
Enjoy winter and I'll see you in the garden