RHS in praise of the humble hedge – ‘often the hero in any garden’ Bedford News

RHS research has shown that hedges have many benefits (Photo: Adobe)

From the suburbs to the countryside, they are the mainstay of the British landscape.

Subtle in their presence, hedges can easily be overlooked amid their more eye-catching garden companions.

But who can imagine rolling rural vistas without them; or deny their ubiquitous role in the suburban tapestry?

The RHS has secured funding to further explore hedgerows (Photo: Adobe)

Where would we be without a hedge on which to share neighborhood gossip – or draw the battle lines of local disputes?

However, these strong living borders also serve a much larger purpose in terms of supporting biodiversity and fighting climate change.

Research by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has already shown that hedges can improve air quality, slow the flow of rainwater, reduce noise, provide shelter for wildlife and help regulate temperature through shading and cooling – with beech, privet and holly among those known to provide benefits across the board.

It is believed that characteristics such as the shape, texture and branch structure of the leaves make them more suitable for various roles.

Following the storms that hit the UK in February, the RHS urged gardeners to swap downed fences for hedges.

“Establishing a new hedge or tending to an existing one may be the single most important action a gardener can take to combat the extremes of climate change and support biodiversity,” said Mark Gush, environmental horticulture manager at HRH.

“Whether through evaporative cooling from heat waves, filtering and protection against high winds, absorbing water to mitigate extreme rainfall, capturing pollutants from traffic, or providing habitats and wildlife corridors, hedges are excellent all-rounders.”

However, a monoculture of hedges, as is traditional in many gardens and urban areas, can leave hedges susceptible to disease and limit biodiversity.

Planting and management can also have a deterrent effect on gardeners.

But such is the importance of the hedge, the RHS has secured funding to deepen our understanding.

The charity is doubling down on research into the benefits of green infrastructure for urban areas.

With a grant of £100,000 from the Royal Commission for the 1851 Exhibition, the RHS will study what different varieties of hedgerow mean they provide important ecosystem services, the benefits of mixed hedgerows and the practicality of their planting and maintenance.

Led by Senior Horticulture Scientist Tijana Blanusa, the two-year project will research the best hedge combinations for year-round impact in a lab and via real-world application in a school.

The six mixed hedge combinations that will be tested will be drawn from four hedge plants: privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), western redcedar (Thuja plicata ‘Atrovirens’) and eleagnus (Eleagnus x ebbingei ‘Feux de the ramp’).

All were chosen because of their accessibility and varying form and function, explains the RHS.

The results will be published in 2024 and aim to contribute to the development of green and healthy urban environments.

“The humble hedge is often the star of any garden,” Tijana said.

“Acting as a natural screen, they not only provide important environmental services, but are relatively cheap, durable and have a small footprint.

“Knowing which planting combinations to choose to achieve the most environmental benefits and how to maintain them effectively could enable wider adoption as we seek to sustain our towns and cities.”

Here is how water from our gardens can help nature:

More about this article: Read More
This notice was published: 2022-04-23 14:47:12

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *