Wildlife Friendly Hedging – Preserving wildlife species is as important as preserving plant species since neither can exist without the other. Insects, birds and animals need the pollen and nectar from flowers and subsequent berries, fruit and nuts to survive throughout the year as well as the plants providing foliage for egg-laying insects and secure cover for birds nesting. Plants on the other hand need the contact with wildlife for pollination either by the spread of pollen or by seed dispersal.
All established hedges of any species will have significant wildlife value providing a home for nesting birds, small mammals and insects, evergreen hedging species are particularly valuable giving shelter in Winter, as are leaf retaining hedges such as beech and Hornbeam.
Mixed Native Hedges are particularly good as wildlife friendly hedging because they will also provide food in the form of nectar rich flowers, seeds, fruits, hips and berries as well as a sheletered home. Mixed hedges are best because the flowers, fruits and foliage will provide food for a wider variety of species. Many of our native hedging species are important larval food sources for butterflies. The flowers of some garden hedging plants are favourite nectar sources for adult butterflies, for example Escallonia, Lavender and Privet (which attracts over a dozen species).
Farmers have long been planting Native Hedgerow Mixes to provide effective and permanent field enclosure for livestock and encourage wildlife pollinators for their crops including such species as Quickthorn or Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Spindle, Elder and Dog Rose. With their pretty flowers and berries and hips, the flowers on Blackthorn normally appearing in March or April to catch the early insect life. Most urban and rural gardeners are now more aware of the need to encourage bees, insects, butterflies, birds and animals and so are planting more wildlife friendly hedging in and around the garden.
The wildlife value of a mixed native hedge can be further improved by letting the immediate vegetation along a hedge grow naturally rather than mowing it if at all practicable, (once the hedge is well established) this will allow wild hedgerow flowers such as Foxgloves, Primroses and many others to thrive offering further nectar and shelter. The ground along the run of hedging could even be seeded with a hedgerow wild flower mix.
Species Roses for hedging have forever been a favourite for the fragrant blooms followed by the beautiful rosehips and plants such as Hazel for the tasty nuts favoured by squirrels, often long before any human has chance to forage for them!
Garden hedging plants with berries can provide excellent wildlife friendly hedging by providing Winter food sources for birds, popular hedges like Pyracantha, Cotoneaster and Berberis will all provide persistant berries well into the colder months.
There are of course fruiting plants such as Wild Crabapple, Wild Pear and Plum Myrobalan which add diversity to the menu for birds and these incorporated into a Native Hedgerow would help provide cover when nesting, even better if you can allow a few to develop into trees along the hedgerow.. For individual shrubs Azaleas and Rhododendrons support large blooms for insects to easily access nectar and pollen along with Lilacs.
If you need any further information about wildlife friendly hedging, or any of our other hedge species please call our friendly sales team on 01580 765600.