April 21, 2006

Pleaching Hornbeams

This week I pruned the pleached Hornbeam hedge along the stone walk that leads out to the woods behind the house. I also decided to plant a new Pleached hedge of Hornbeams (Carpinus) along a new herb garden that I am planting on a very messy side of the house, since a huge 200 foot long Hemlock Hedge (Tsuga canadensis) that has been providing privacy in our yard since my grandfather planted it nearly a hundred years ago, is weakening and soon will be gone, due to an infestation of the Woolly Adelgid.

Pleaching is a ancient method of weaving branches to produce a hedge, often with the trunks showing. This French method is time and labor intensive, something that should make me reconsider the project, but on the other hand, it makes it seem even more attractive. Pleaching comes from the work Plechier, to weave, and one must use a tree species with flexible branches. Hornbeams are traditionally used, but one may also use Beeches.

The new planting will take at least five years before it starts to look good, but the bamboo structure helps to make the area seem less ugly.


  1. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Hi Matt - We're thinking about creating a line of pleached hornbeams down a boundary wall to screen our neighbour's property. I get different views from everyone regarding what hornbeams look like in winter. I'm looking for all year round screening. How much leaf fall have your hornbeams had this winter?

  2. Anonymous5:25 PM

    For me, the hornbeams retain most of their Fall (dead) leaves until Spring. It offers some privacy, yet not as compared to the Summer foliage.
    Trenton, NJ, USA.


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