The other 50% of the hedge is drawn from at least five species from the following list, all can be used in various ways to flavour gin and other drinks (see below for a little more detail)
Like all new mixed native hedgerows, we would recommend 3 plants per metre for a single row hedge or five per metre for a thicker staggered double row (setting the 2 rows about 40cm apart). For a really thick hedge it is possible to increase the number of plants to 7 per metre
As with any species rich mix, the Gin Makers Hedgerow would be a big draw for wildlife bringing Bees, Butterflies, Birds and much more into your plot. The hedge will also have a lot of interest through the seasons with flowers and colourful fruits, not to mention many colours of Autumn foliage.
To maximise the fruiting potential of the hedge it would be important not to trim it too frequently as much of the blossom/fruit will be on the previous year’s wood. Perhaps trimming just one side each year (after harvest!), the untrimmed side being left to yield next years bounty. Some of the species could be left to develop into attractive small trees within the hedgerow if space permitted, particularly the Crab Apple, Wild Pear, Amelanchier and Myrobalan Plum. As with all our hedgerow mixes you can keep these to any height from 120cm (4 feet) upwards although you may prefer to keep your gin makers hedge closer to 2 metres to allow for better fruiting potential!
Anyone lucky enough to have space could plant these species far more widely (4, 5 or more metres apart) as a small copse or a ‘Gin Orchard’ and let them develop into individual trees and shrubs.
There are 3 main ways of flavouring your Gin
- Infusing the Gin with flowers (such as Elderflower), perhaps 15 or 20 flowerheads (with bugs removed!) for a full bottle, ideally collected just as they open together with a little lemon zest and a few tablespoons of sugar left to infuse in a larger jar for about a week. Strain and return to the bottle to enjoy!
- Steeping the fruit directly with the Gin and some caster sugar in a larger container such as a kilner jar. This works best for larger fruits such as sloes and cherry plums. You can prick each fruit a few times with a cocktail stick to release the flavour – or take our advice and freeze them, when they thaw again the skins will rupture and you will have saved hours! As a rough guide you will need half the weight of sugar to fruit (So 250g sugar to 500g of fruit, which should be enough for a 1 litre bottle of gin). Seal the container and give it a good shake every couple of days being sure to leave it for at least 2 months, preferably longer before straining, re bottling and enjoying.
- For the smaller and harder fruits, berries and hips its probably easier to make a syrup from them to add to your gin (or Vodka, Prosecco etc!) Without going into too much detail as there are many recipes online, the fruit will need roughly chopping in a food processor, covering with water before boiling and reducing, straining and sweetening to taste with sugar or honey. Add to taste to your favourite gin!
Our gin makers hedgerow mix is available as bare root plants from November until mid April or as potted specimens for all year planting, we sell them in multiples of 25 plants. Delivery is free on orders over £100 (excluding VAT).
We strongly recommend using Rootgrow when planting all bare root plants, these are native mycorrhizal fungi that will help your new hedge establish quickly.