Perhaps the most beautiful of our large native trees, with elegant spreading branches and leaves which turn rich copper in autumn. The soaring pale grey trunk, reminiscent of the columns of an ancient cathedral, and the delicate tracery of branches make this a tree which looks handsome throughout the year. Beech makes one of the best garden hedges, fast-growing, but needing only one cut a year. Although deciduous, beech hedges retain their brown leaves through the winter before they are pushed off by the new leaves in spring.
Site and soil
Beech needs a well-drained soil, but can cope with the extremes of both chalky and acid sands. Avoid heavy, waterlogged soils. It does well in shade.
Height and spread
Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;
After 10 years: 4m x 4m After 20 years: 14m x 7m
Leaf and bark
The leaves are oval and shiny, 1.5cm long. Young leaves are a pale, tender green and covered with silky hairs which gives a shimmering effect. They turn rich copper before leaf fall. The bark is a beautiful smooth pale grey.
Flower, seed and fruit
The flowers open alongside the young leaves in May in small clusters, the females near the tip of the shoots. The fruits (beech mast) ripen in autumn; the triangular nuts are enclosed within a spiky outer seed case.
Specimen tree. Beech makes one of the best, low maintenance garden hedges. In the past beech was pollarded for furniture making. The timber is used for furniture making, wood-turning and charcoal. In Europe, beech mast has been used to feed pigs and poultry, and in times of famine has been eaten by humans too. An edible oil has been made from the nuts. A liqueur, beech leaf noyeau, can be made from the young leaves.
Beech mast is an important food source for small mammals and birds. Both the leaves and the timber are rich in potash and help to enrich the soil.
The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:
When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golden rule is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.
Vole, Mice 20cm
Roe Deer, Muntjac 1.20m
Fallow Deer 1.50m
Pest & Minimum Protection Height
Protection Type Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.