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Foraging through hedgerows for hours on end has always been a British tradition that no gardener is unfamiliar with. Returning home as a child with hands covered in blackberry juices after picking hundreds to bring home to enjoy as a tasty snack, is a memory which many of us share. Edible hedging is the perfect way to reconnect with this gratifying activity and with the option of including specific edible hedging species to a personalised hedgerow, you can obtain a mixture of your favourite flavours with ease and in the comfort of your own garden.
Hedgerow berries are the most accessible and most popular of all the edible hedgerow features and are used to make wonderful preserves for both sweet and savoury recipes. Rowan or Mountain Ash is a popular choice for their distinctively bright orange berries displayed in autumn, harvested to make the famous Rowan jelly. Known to attain a pleasant woody flavour, the tasty jelly makes a brilliant addition to any roast meat dish. Alternatively, the ripe black berries of Elder hedge plants are known to have a sour and pleasantly fruity flavour that creates a distinctive taste in many jams, wines and sorbets. The dark glossy berries which emerge in autumn are mildly toxic when eaten raw, so they should always be cooked.
Sea Buckthorn definitely makes it to the top of our ingredients list as its fiery orange berries are used in an abundance of recipes for pies, jams and creates an interesting taste in certain wines and liquors. For those wanting larger fruits that can be seen elegantly hanging from a distance, look no further than Crab Apple. The sizeable fruits display wonderful shades of yellow and red and their dimension brings impact to a hedgerow. Their size coincides with the numerous recipes they make as they help assemble luscious jellies, cordials, butters and sorbets.
Both the fruit and the flowers of the previously mentioned edible hedging shrub Elder are fit for consumption, although the flowers are favoured for cooking. In summer, the large flat heads of creamy white flowers do not go unmissed as they emit a pleasant fragrance that hangs in the air, capable of bringing a delightful atmosphere to a garden. After enjoying this sensory treat, the flowers are used as a vital resources in numerous recipes for their sweet taste, used in vinegars, jellies, cakes, sorbets and making great additions to glasses of champagne they're renowned for the unique tasting, Elderflower cordial.
Dog Rose can be easily identified for their large flowers that produce petals of lovely pink shades that surround the contrasting yellow colour of the central stamens. Their beauty can be used in decorative pieces as they can be crystallised and frequently appear in cake designs; or indeed in sweet treats, Turkish Delight anyone? For hedgerow cooking enthusiasts, Dog Rose hedging plants are a gift that keeps on giving. After the flowering period, the glossy, brightly coloured, orange and red hips make delicious syrups that can be used for ice creams and lollipops, perfect for a refreshing lift on a hot summer's day.
When it comes to hedges with nuts, Hazel is king of the crop. Being popular for thousands of years, Hazelnuts grow nearly everywhere in the British Isles. This deciduous plant brings seasonal interest as its green foliage shifts to soft yellow shades in autumn and with long yellow catkins which suspend from the bare branches. Its aesthetic looks great as a single species hedge, whilst bringing added colour and shapes to a mixed edible hedgerow. The sweet nuts make a great component in homemade muesli as well as salads and stuffing. The nuts can be eaten fresh, straight after gathering or can be stored for a number of months before being roasted.
Fruits, nuts, hips, haws and sloes are all emphasised when discussing edible hedging, but one mustn't forget that for some shrubs, their foliage alone is perfect for establishing an edible garden.
Rosemary and Lavender not only produce heavenly fragrances, but the versatile herbs hold flavours that can be picked fresh from the garden and used to make sweet jams or to compliment a selection of meat dishes. Their evergreen nature provides year round cover and they are seen regularly in garden designs as low growing hedges used as garden borders to create structure and to emphasise garden paths, features and larger plants.
Don't let difficult growing conditions hinder your gardening ambitions. Our selection includes a range of edible hedging plants that will thrive in challenging environments, enabling you to establish your very own kitchen garden. For coastal gardens, consider Dog Rose, Rowan or Mountain Ash and Juneberry as these plants can withstand the salt laden air and the windy weather. Edible hedging trees such as Hazel are shade tolerant and will produce edible features in covered areas of a garden. No matter what the condition, at Hedges Direct we are determined to supply the best edible hedging plant for you.
For hedgerow cooking recipes and inspiration, there are plenty of online suggestions and a selection of cook books, such as The Hedgerow Cook Book by Wild at Heart that includes 100 different recipes for hedge grown ingredients.
Entice your taste buds by planting edible hedging plants that produce succulent fruits, nuts and haws which can either be eaten raw or made into mouth-watering treats. With grow your own ingredients becoming a popular spectacle over the past few years, what better way to embrace and test your culinary skills than by harvesting your own produce for free and challenging yourself to create the many sweet tasting delights which these ingredients lend themselves to.
Designing an edible garden feature gives you the opportunity to have fun and get creative with a range of plant species. Our edible hedging selection are great for developing a single species hedge, whereas multiple species can be included in an intricate edible mixed hedgerow, offering an array of fruits, nuts, hips and haws for you to have the pick of the bunch.
Note: Many hedging plants are poisonous and some require cooking before eating to avoid stomach upsets. We recommend purchasing a good Hedgerow cookery book such as the Hedgerow Cookbook by Wild at Heart which you can pick up at Amazon.