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Best Edible Perennial Hedging?

 
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Does anyone have any experience constructing a perennial, evergreen and edible hedge, is such a thing possible?

I've been toying with three plants; Rosemary, Lovage and Mediterranean Saltbush but i'm not sure how any will stand up to the winter in the UK.

Rosemary i'm told is fairly cold tender so can I expect it to die back during the winter?

Lovage apparently also needs cutting back during the winter, is that the case?

Saltbush seems fairly promising but I imagine it would be similiarly tender to rosemary as they are from the same sort of region.

Any thoughts? Anyone have any experience of constructing a perennial hedge?

 
pollinator
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Hmm. Spruce, juniper have medicinal applications.

But apparently there is a cold hardy evergreen huckleberry too!

https://permaculturenews.org/2018/03/16/15-productive-plants-evergreen-suited-temperate-climate/
 
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It could be a mix of dwarf fruit trees with currants, autumn olives, goumi berries and some of the spices you mentioned. Bay laurel produces more mild leaves when they are trimmed like a hedge and constantly regrowing. The trimmings from a hedge like this would be suitable as a supplement for many types of livestock.

Hedges can be like mini hedgerows, providing resources for humans and wildlife.
 
M D Scott
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Thanks for the great link! I like the idea of some of the taller varieties of Rosemary (such as Tuscan Blue or Blue Spires) but i'm not sure either would be cold hardy enough or thick enough to function as a hedge. I liked the idea of Bay, in fact I have a plant chugging along happily in my bathroom, my only concern is that apparently that likes temperatures of 5 degrees at the least which I couldn't guarantee all year around here oh and i'm somewhat concerned that its roots could be potentially damaging.

My space is extremely limited so i'd like to have trees and the like but my concern there is that it would start to affect the foundations of my neighbours property (we are only metres distant).
 
Mother Tree
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I grew rosemary in Wales for years.  It survived the winters just fine.

I still have a rosemary patch here in Portugal grown from cuttings I took from my Welsh plant over 15 years ago.  
 
M D Scott
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Oh thats good to know! Was it the standard rosemary or have you tried any of the large rosemary varieties? Its surprisingly hard to find pictures of the tall varieties of rosemary to see what the actual end result of a rosemary hedge would be.
 
master pollinator
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Hops perhaps?
 
M D Scott
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I know that hops is used in brewing, of course, but is it a good edible plant to?
 
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M D Scott wrote:I know that hops is used in brewing, of course, but is it a good edible plant to?



The shoots in spring have been traditionally eaten and are harvested to control the number of vines per crown.  They taste like string beans.  Here's an article from the Guardian that I couldn't help attaching due to this thread's title  "It's like eating a hedgerow"
 
M D Scott
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An interesting article thankyou very much! It seems to have a limited season of availability in terms of use (about 3 weeks?) after which it wouldn't be usable as an edible in the same way, would that be right? Other than that it looks like it'd be a strong contender though!
 
pollinator
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asparagus might be good choice to throw in the mix. there's some tradition for using it as an edible hedge plant.

dont know what climate you are in, that obviously affects things...but some suggestions - any kind of cane berry - blackberry raspberry etc, fruit trees - plum, peach cherry or others, figs could be great especially since they are so easy to re root.....rose...

hazelnuts can make a nice hedge...all kinds of vining plants, when trained onto a trellis/fence/wires especially...or just growing thick into bushes and trees - passionflowers/passionfruit, grapes, kiwi, or even stuff like peas, beans or runner beans.

you could also plant a row of trees which are not edibles, but use them as the main framework (willow or others) and plant all the bushes and vines in between... and shorter herbs/ground covers/flowers for pollinators surround the edges...
 
leila hamaya
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some other good plants for this-

Thimbleberry
Elderberry
Currants
Blueberries, if your climate/soil is good for them
many types of Hibiscus can get quite large and bushy (edible- though maybe not a favorite - edible flower mostly)
Fuchsia can make a lovely hedging, again technically edible (berry) but not a favorite for eating
 
pollinator
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I like the ideas of asparagus, canefruit, and hazelnuts.

Some parts of the UK will support Camellia sinensis/tea.

You specifically mentioned you'd like an evergreen hedge, so I have to suggest bamboo. It would take some work containing it, but if it's not a huge space and your neighbours don't freak out it might be okay. Unfortunately, just about all the tasty ones seem to be running varieties.

Also evergreen, is Ceanothus. I have C. velutinus which I love. The flowers and resiny leaves smell amazing (sweet and spicy), pollinators love it, and it fixes nitrogen. The leaves make a nice tea. C. americanus is the one traditionally used for tea, though. Not sure how it compares to mine.
 
Jan White
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Oh! I think salal/Gaultheria is evergreen. Some of them get fairly tall.
 
leila hamaya
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Jan White wrote:I like the ideas of asparagus, canefruit, and hazelnuts.

Some parts of the UK will support Camellia sinensis/tea.

You specifically mentioned you'd like an evergreen hedge, so I have to suggest bamboo. It would take some work containing it, but if it's not a huge space and your neighbours don't freak out it might be okay. Unfortunately, just about all the tasty ones seem to be running varieties.

Also evergreen, is Ceanothus. I have C. velutinus which I love. The flowers and resiny leaves smell amazing (sweet and spicy), pollinators love it, and it fixes nitrogen. The leaves make a nice tea. C. americanus is the one traditionally used for tea, though. Not sure how it compares to mine.



yeah good suggestions.

camellia sinensis could even be a money maker, if you grew enough of it in a hedge and went about the laborious proper curing technique to make some organic tea.

and agreed, any Ceanothus would be great for this. sort of an edible, maybe not something immediately edible, but totally it's a N fixer, AND its a good deer food.the deer like it.
perhaps something to keep the deer distracted by it, and not getting into your edibles on the other side of the hedge. it can get quite thick, in nor cal it's everywhere wild, making natural hedgerows all on it's own...
 
pollinator
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I'm building one up, on the north side basket willow which gets quite bushy, as a wind block, then towards the south ,in front of that sunchokes/ jerusalem atichokes/topinambour, then in front of that sage and in front of that i'm growing rosemary.
So it's like a meter, 3 feet wide. Build facing south with the heat loving rosemary in the front.
I've got no idea if i'm going to succeed, record drought and four heat waves killed all of the 25 willow except 2.
The sage is doing very good, the rosemary survived. I'm going to double down on my efforts.

If i remember i'll post a picture tomorrow.

I've done mini hedges of thyme, but they're tiny. And have hedges of cassis and sage, they're hip high, planted a rosemary hedge last year when the buxus moth devoured my buxus hedge. Why not have rosemary. I was planning on an update on that one too.

As UK is getting hotter as well every year and like Burra said it grew great in Wales, you'll get away with rosemary.
Sage can be eaten as a vegetable which is great with pasta up to some x amount of grams.
But i use it mainly to make hydrolat with.
 
Hugo Morvan
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photos of young hedges, they will get full grown
rosemary-hedge-2019.jpg
[Thumbnail for rosemary-hedge-2019.jpg]
0-75-year-old-hedge.jpg
[Thumbnail for 0-75-year-old-hedge.jpg]
second-half-hedge.jpg
[Thumbnail for second-half-hedge.jpg]
Sage-adult.jpg
[Thumbnail for Sage-adult.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Bay tree can be hedged. You might sell the leaves too.
 
pollinator
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I don't think you would need to worry about fruit trees damaging your neighbor's foundation, unless they are VERY close (within five or six feet).  Planting dwarf or semi-dwarf trees would also reduce the spread of the roots, if it's a real concern.

 
Tim Kivi
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:I don't think you would need to worry about fruit trees damaging your neighbor's foundation, unless they are VERY close (within five or six feet).  Planting dwarf or semi-dwarf trees would also reduce the spread of the roots, if it's a real concern.



Installing a root barrier would contain roots when it’s very close to a neighbour’s place.
 
M D Scott
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Thanks for the great replies guys one of the things I really love about these forums is that everyone is full of ideas and experiences and particular thanks for the photo!

Camellia Sinensis and Ceanothus? Never even heard of them but now i've read up on them they sound absolutely fascinating; I think for my garden they would't really work but I love the idea of these on an allotment so will definitely keep these in mind.

In terms of foundations I imagine i'm not that far off from my neighbours foundation in places; another issue is with the house i'm in being a few hundred years old I often find buried 'masses' in the garden; big concrete lumps and pipe-working which I have no way of knowing whether it is active or inactive. This might sound over cautious but my neighbour, who has the same problem with buried infrastructure, found that an old abandoned tap buried at the back of his house seems to issue clean fresh water from who knows where! I assume some of these pipes must be main pipes or power lines so i'm wearing of inadvertently breaching something 'active'

That is my main issue with trees and with bay trees specifically; I love my bays in pots and would be encouraged to try a hedge of them (even though i'm in UK zone 8 so it may be a bit rough for them) but I fear some of the things i've read have led me to believe they can be somewhat invasive.

The pictures of asparagus are stunning; I had no idea they created that sort of 'fan' effect; are they productive plants in cool climates?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Asparagus does well in cool climates!  You should have no problem at all growing it where you are.
 
M D Scott
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I love the look of it! I know this might sound like a stupid question but what is edible? Is it simply the 'stem' near the base, the whole stem or everything including the wispy leaves?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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M D Scott wrote:I love the look of it! I know this might sound like a stupid question but what is edible? Is it simply the 'stem' near the base, the whole stem or everything including the wispy leaves?



Asparagus is eaten right after it sprouts, so it's the very young stem that you are eating.  As it gets older and taller, the stem becomes too fibrous and tough to eat.  Look up information on harvesting asparagus for details, but basically, if it snaps off easily, it's still tender enough to eat it.

 
M D Scott
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Thanks for the advice thats really useful!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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You'll find all this and more when you do a search, but asparagus is planted as roots, usually called crowns.  Normally you can't eat any of the sprouts the first year, as the plant needs those to grow to build strength.  You can pick a few sprouts the second year, and more the third year.  But it's worth it, because once it's established, asparagus plants will survive for decades.  I've seen some growing around the foundation of a two-hundred-year-old house that had been there for longer than the current owner, who was in his eighties, had been alive.  It does best if the asparagus bed is kept free of weeds; it can use a little fertilizer (compost, manure); and it likes water -- often wild asparagus grows in ditches alongside the roads.  You can only pick from it for a few weeks in the spring each year -- then you have to allow the shoots to grow up into those delicate fronds you saw pictures of, so they can build strong roots for the plant.  It can be grown from seed, but the new plants are tiny and delicate.  You would want to grow them in a special well-tended nursery bed, or maybe inside a greenhouse, and then transplant them to your hedge when the roots were large enough to be handled -- those crowns I already mentioned.  But that would be a good way to get a lot of asparagus plants for less cost.
 
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