While we have all been restricted in what we are able to do at the moment, April has started off as a very pleasant month on the nursery. The warmth during the day has accelerated the new growth on the plants and what was only 3 weeks ago a brown twig is now showing a good covering of beautiful fresh green leaves. This is nowhere more apparent than on the Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) instant hedging which is always one of the first hedge plants to put leaf on with us. The fresh tender green leaves go from the bottom of the plant to the top until it is covered in this fresh young leaf. The troughs are always the first to put there new growth out closely followed by the hedgebags.
Over the last few weeks there has also been a smattering of grey brown leaves blowing around the nursery as the Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) have been shedding the leaves that they have held on to over the winter. The reason for this is now apparent as we are starting to see the lovely fresh new leaves and new growth emerging on them. they are always a couple of weeks behind the Hawthorn but you can forgive them as the pale green leaves really show that spring has arrived and that we will soon have beautiful young hedges ready to go for planting.
With all the new growth coming on the deciduous hedges it is easy to get carried away and forget the evergreens that have been providing us with structure and colour over the winter. One that has not stopped trying to compete with this flush of fresh growth is the Viburnum tinus. The flower buds that all winter have been showing just a hint of colour and promise have all burst open and the dark green foliage is almost covered in glorious clusters of white flowers. While there is no or very little fragrance to these flowers, they are a great source of early nectar for bees and other insects that come out early in the year.
Another very striking hedge which is much more commonly grown is Photinia Red Robin. This is a very much a love it or loath it hedge, but whatever your view there is no denying that the first flush of new growth in the spring is a very welcome blast of vivid red colour. This year it seems to be particularly vivid and vibrant. The best bit of this hedge is that when you trim it, it will give you another flush of red growth afterwards so the display goes on for a reasonable length of time over the year.