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Since we grow much larger plants on our nursery than most, customers usually come to us for an instant effect, and one of the most common requirements is for large prickly or thorny plants for security hedging. Our dense, instant hedge blocks, such as our instant Beech hedging and our famous Instant Laurel Hedge Blocks, provide fantastic security due to their high density, but when something prickly or thorny is required, such as to deter trespassers from your property, or to provide protection for smaller nesting birds, there a number of possibly “spiky” options, which can also be beautiful and will attract wildlife:


Crataegus monogyna, commonly known as Hawthorn, May Blossom or Quickthorn, has historically (especially following the various Enclosures Acts) been the plant most widely used for hedging in the British countryside. Tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, easy to propagate, relatively fast growing, dense, regenerates well when pruned or laid, non-toxic and ideal for stock hedges, Hawthorn hedging will provide a habitat for wildlife. To emulate a rural ‘native’ hedge, most country-style hedges would be made up of about 60% Hawthorn with other native or sympathetic species suited to the growing conditions on-site mixed in to provide diversity and interest. Hawthorn is not evergreen, but it is one of the first woody plants to re-leaf in spring. The white flowers in May followed by blood-red berries, or Haws, in autumn provide additional interest both to the eye and for wildlife. Most people plant Hawthorn in winter as relatively small, bare-rooted whips or transplants at a spacing of four to six per metre in a double, staggered row. However, at Wykeham Mature Plants we also grow Hawthorn plants in containers which can be planted at any time of year and are available in larger sizes for a more instant result.





There are many varieties of holly, including brightly coloured variegated forms, all of which prefer a well-drained soil but with plenty of organic matter. Holly is ideal for shady positions as it naturally grows in woodland under other trees, and the variegated forms are great for brightening a dingy corner, but for deeper shade a plain green form such as ‘Alaska’ will grow more comfortably. Holly is quite slow growing, so it would be sensible to buy larger plants if a more instant result is needed. The varieties we grow at Wykeham are all female, so they should all produce attractive berries as long as there are male-flowering hollies within bee-flying distance, and they have been carefully selected to be fully hardy, robust and reliable. Our hollies our grown in the fields on our Yorkshire nursery and dug during dormancy as wire-wrapped rootballs.





The common name of ‘Firethorn’ really says it all with this thorny evergreen. Often grown as a wall shrub, large Pyracantha plants can also be grown together to form a dense hedge that even the most determined trespasser would think twice about tackling – or would bear the scars afterwards! White, sweetly scented flowers in June are followed by spectacular yellow, orange or red berries in autumn (red berried varieties such as ‘Red Column’ are best as a food source for birds). Pyracantha hedging is usually our first choice for security and as a deterrent on properties which have previously suffered regular trespass issues. It can also be used to plug problematic gaps in existing hedges as it will tend to scramble through, effectively knitting gaps together. Like pretty much all evergreens, Pyracantha will not tolerate being waterlogged for long so ensure adequate drainage.


Pyracantha hedge plants



There are many different species/varieties of Berberis or ‘Barberry’, ranging from being uncomfortably prickly to bearing thorns like nails or spikes. Some a brightly coloured, such as Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’ or Berberis ottawensis ‘Superba’ but these are deciduous. Many of the various evergreen species are particularly suited to hedging, such as Berberis darwinii which produces sulphur-yellow to orange flowers in spring followed by bluish berries in autumn. Attractive as well as practical, Berberis will eventually make a superb hedge, but is usually relatively slow-growing compared to some of the other options we offer.


Purple Berberis


Crataegus prunifolia

This beauty has common names including ‘Broad-leaved cockspur thorn’ and ‘Frosted thorn’, but the name of ‘Cherry-leaved Hawthorn’ is probably the most descriptive. With white blossom very similar to its common Hawthorn cousin, but carried in mid-June rather than in May, you might not be surprised at not being completely familiar with this… until that is when you see it in autumn and wonder why it isn’t in every garden in the land! The glossy green, oval, slightly serrated leaves turn to the most beautiful golden yellow at around the same time as an abundance of large berries ripen to a shiny blood-red. However, this foliage display is not finished there as, if they’ve been exposed to enough direct sunlight over the summer, the golden yellow leaves can have tips of bright orange, or turn through scarlet red to a coppery purple. The inch-and-a-half long thorns, hard as nails, are a rich plum colour, as are the young twigs, and the mature bark ripens to a silvery-grey. Crataegus prunifolia makes a truly beautiful hedge and the select form of Crataegus prunifolia ‘Splendens’ is one of our favourite small trees.


Crataegus prunifolia hedging Autumn Foliage


For further information visit the “shop” section of our website, or contact us at (or call 01723862406) for a bespoke quote or to discuss which options would be best for your needs and for the conditions on your site.

13 January 2019