Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why Don't You....

...think about adding hornbeams to your garden?
C. betulus
ir
C. cariolanus
This weekend I visited a friend's garden which I had not visited in a few years.  I noticed a lovely tree  that really stood out from the rest of the garden - it was a lovely specimen of Carpinus betulus or the Common (or European) Hornbeam.  I believe that hornbeams are very popular in British and European gardens, but I have noticed a lot of American gardeners are starting to warm up to the hornbeam for their gardens.  There is even a variety that is native to the United State (C. caroliniana), which tends to be a bit smaller than the European Hornbeam.  I love that hornbeams are extremely hardy trees and especially gorgeous when in flower.  Hornbeams look a bit like beech trees, but the leaves are much more pointed than those of the beech, with double-toothed margins and prominent parallel veins.  
During the Middle Ages, hornbeams were coppiced and pollarded for firewood and charcoal.  It's hard wood texture was valued for the manufacture of piano-key movements and for wooden axles and spokes.   They even make lovely bonsais!


I believe hornbeams make wonderful espaliered groupings and were quite common for hedges.   Learn more about hornbeams here.  Better yet, go down to your local nursery, park or botanical garden and see this beautiful tree for yourself!
Clipped Hornbeam
Hornbeam hedge
Hornbeam hedge

7 comments:

  1. They are neat looking trees. With my small yard I can only have a couple. Crabapple in the front and I just bought a Paperbark Maple for my back that will be put in soon.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  2. Sounds like a tree I need to explore..thx

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  3. Hi Michael. Figured I would answer you here assuming you don't recheck answers on a blog and couldn't answer your email notification that you commented. Heather and Heaths should do fine in dappled sun, but make sure you know your PH levels to know which kind to get. Most Heather takes acid soil, but the ones I have both winter and summer bloomers will do ok in alkaline and mine is neutral soil. I love them. Will be doing posts on into winter on my winter bloomers.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  4. We have quite a few Hornbeam hedges here Michael! The hedge cutting season started last week so we are now hard at it getting these beauties back in to shape!

    Bertie

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  5. I started a hornbeam hedge last year. At the current rate of growth, it might reach hedge height in about 15 years. Maybe is not the plant for my garden.

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  7. I am starting plans for refurbishing a local garden and am thinking about hornbeam — Carpinus caraliniana — for hedging. Reading James' note above, it gets me to wonder what the expected growth rate might be for this species . . . What zone are you planting in? I'm planning for 9B zone . . . temperate coastal.

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