The country hedge or bocage hedge is ideal for closing a property in style. Composed of well-diversified local species, it flowers at different times of the year. The country hedge is also a major asset for birds and other small animals, which can find food and the shelter they need there. Let’s see all the essences with which you can build your natural hedge in order to quickly take advantage of a very dense plant enclosure, both windbreak and sight-breaking, which is adorned with varied colors over the seasons, and which attracts many garden allies.
The advantages of the country hedge or bocage hedge
Due to the diversity of the trees and shrubs that make it up, the bocage hedge presents a high disease resistance. Indeed, the risks of contamination between different species are low, or even non-existent. You can also enjoy ease of maintenance. No need to water it once the trees are well rooted, nor to add fertilizer. In addition, an annual pruning is enough and even without that, it remains very aesthetic. If you are lucky enough to have a very large piece of land, you can completely let it grow freely. But let’s know that the natural hedge also supports severe pruning, after which it starts up again.
On the aesthetic side, it brings a crazy charm to the garden and gives it character authentic, blending into the landscape like no other traditional hedge can. Finally, it attracts pollinatorsthem birds fond of berries and happy to be able to build their nest there, as well as other auxiliaries of the garden. A country hedge is full of life! It is therefore the one we choose for save biodiversity while protecting itself naturally from prying eyes and the wind.
Country hedge or bocage hedge: choose local species
The principle is to mix local species, deciduous and evergreen or semi-evergreen, which will have no problem acclimatizing. Ideally, we create a sequence of five or six different species that we repeat as many times as necessary over the entire length of the land to be revegetated, leaving enough room for each shrub to allow it to develop well. Find out beforehand about the intervals to be respected depending on the species chosen.
Each sequence can for example be made up of flowering shrubs, berry shrubs and trees that add volume and fill in the gaps (filler trees), but it is also a great way to break the monotony like the one that can be blamed on a classic hedge exclusively composed of thuyas for example. It’s up to everyone to choose according to their preferences, knowing that landscape designers advise composing their bocage hedge with 25% evergreen trees and 75% deciduous species.
Shrubby Honeysuckle (Fragrant Lonicera)
How wonderful this cascade of flowers sumptuous pearly white that this Honeysuckle offers us from December until March! It brightens up the country hedge throughout the winter, and throughout the summer it is covered with bright red berries. This bushy shrub with semi-evergreen foliage brings a deliciously fragrant note to the garden that pollinators also appreciate.
mountain ash (A sip of acuparía)
One can hardly resist its beauty but it demands a sufficient space because in adulthood, the mountain ash still measures 10 m high and 6 m wide. It is a sturdy plant that adapts to everything: cold down to -20°C, full sun and drought. It has deciduous foliage of a beautiful dark green, and produces clusters of large orange-red berries from mid-summer.
Hazel (Corylus avellana)
It would be a pity not to integrate this beautiful shrub into a natural hedge. very fast growing around 1.50 to 2 m per year, and which produces delicious hazelnuts in autumn. We also love its fluffy catkins which appear in the heart of winter and are none other than the male flowers. Many are unaware, and it is a pity, that the hazel tree catkins are groceries. Very rich in nutrients, they can be ground and used as a seasoning, or cut and added to a salad (they are a little bitter). They can also be incorporated into a gratin, a savory tart, a quiche, a pan-fried winter vegetable…
Golden St. John’s Wort (Hypericum)
Perfect for a low hedge, this tough evergreen shrub with a beautiful dark green does not exceed 1.70 m in height. It is covered with a multitude of bright yellow flowers from the month of May, splendid with their stamens in large numbers. Admittedly, it is not a species native to our regions since this St. John’s Wort is native to China, but it grows very well in temperate zones and fits nicely into a natural hedge.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
This beautiful shrub resistant, no special requirement, brings a luminous touch with its clusters of white flowers which appear from April and last until the end of May. Its purplish-purple piridions verging on black (Saskatoon berries) which mature in August are a delight for birds, but not only, since they can be eaten. These species of small juicy and sweet berries are delicious with their flavor between blueberry and blueberry.
Saskatoon saskatoon can be eaten plain, alone or in a fresh fruit salad, but it can also be made into jams, liqueurs, incorporated into a sauce to accompany venison, or in desserts (ice cream, clafoutis, milk preparations …).
Montpellier maple (Acer monspessulanum)
It’s a beautiful specimen bushy which reaches 4 to 8 m in height and 3 m in width. Its greenish-yellow spring flowers are not lacking in attraction. As for its deciduous foliage, shiny green on the top of the leaves and blue-green below, it illuminates the country hedge in autumn, from shiny gold to red passing through orange. We appreciate its spectacular beauty especially in this season, but also its hardiness since it withstands down to -28°C and is very resistant to drought.
Common rosehip (canine rose)
It doesn’t just serve as a graft for the rose bush! The rose hip is the essential shrub of the country hedge. It is nicknamed hedge rose or dog rose. Very resistant, without any particular requirement, it quietly reaches 3 to 4 m in height. It’s a bush with thorny stems arched. It flowers in June. Its pinkish-white melliferous flowers with golden-colored stamens are fragrant. Its false fruits, the rose hips, of a beautiful coral red, appear in the heart of winter. Edible, they are very interesting from a nutritional point of view because of their high vitamin C content, almost 20 times higher than that of oranges.
Vinettier (Berberis vulgaris)
Very hardy, this 3.50 m high shrub, also called Barberry is particularly present in the North of France where it grows spontaneously on the hillsides. Due to its very thorny branches, this Barberry is perfect for integrating into a natural defensive hedge. Its small honey-bearing yellow flowers bloom in clusters from the end of March and last until June. As for its fruits, they are small decorative red berries that mature in September. Only the fruits of this shrub are not poisonous. They can also be consumed as a drink or jam.
Aubepine (Crataegus monogyna)
Very hardy, this shrub with slow growing reaches 6 m in height in adulthood. It is adorned with red, pink or white flowers in April-May intoxicating fragrance then in autumn of garnet berries which the birds are fond of. Hawthorn is an ideal decorative shrub for a defensive hedge because of its prickles.
Hornbeam (Birch wood)
Rustic, it withstands -15°C without flinching. It is the essential of country or bocage hedges. This fast-growing deciduous tree that can reach 25 m in height and 8 m in width magnifies large spaces. Two annual prunings are necessary if you want to control its volume. We can also make geometric and strict sizes of all the common charms which, thus, will form a bower. However, pruning is not obligatory when you want to drive this hornbeam in a free hedge.
Grape Cherry or Grape Cherry (Prunus padus)
This shrub nicknamed Amaruvier brings a highly decorative touch to a natural hedge. These clusters of white flowers that bloom in May-June are spectacular. Subsequently, black, well-rounded drupes appear, which are none other than sour cherries with large pits, non-toxic but not really edible by humans. Birds love it, which is why this shrub is nicknamed the bird cherry. As for its deciduous foliage, it takes on beautiful fiery colors in autumn.
European charcoal (Euonymus europaeus)
He knows how to stand out within a bocage hedge by the beauty of its deciduous foliage which turns red in autumn and its bright pink fruit with orange seeds which form at the same time. They are the delicacy of the birds but toxic for the man. This fairly slow-growing shrub reaches 3 to 6 m in adulthood and 2 to 4 m in wingspan. It withstands down to -15°C.
Nerprun d’Europe panaché (Rhamnus alaternus argenteovariegatus)
We love its smell of honey, its flowers which bloom from April and change color, going from red to yellow and then its black and red berries. Distrust all the same, the fruits of this Buckthorn which is also called variegated alaterne are toxic for humans and pets. The interest of this tree also lies in its splendid variegated evergreen foliage. Its glossy green leaves are edged in creamy white.
Dozens of other species fit wonderfully into a country hedge, such as willows (basket, ash, red, three-stamen, white or even Marsault), quince, silver birch, wild pear, Alder, common ash, walnut, oak, linden… But before making your choice, it is very important to learn about the height and wingspan of each species in adulthood… This will avoid many surprises after a few years.