Fagus Sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ Hedging
The fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ is commonly known as the copper beech, a name that truly reflects the lovely appearance of this plant, in addition to being easier to both pronounce and remember. The fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ cultivar is derived from the natural species known as the common beech. The common beech and the copper beech are essentially the same species, which is why they are both known by the botanical name “fagus sylvatica”. As a result, both of these varieties are almost entirely interchangeable. However, in some cases, it would be preferable choosing the fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ over its naturally occurring parent plant. So what is it that makes the fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ worth considering as a hedging plant?
The ‘Atropurpurea’ cultivar distinguishes itself from the common, green variety known as the common beech due to its visually appealing, reddish leaves. This colourful foliage will add interest to your garden throughout the year. The young leaves have a coppery red colour and darken to a deep purple shade in the summer and autumn. When the winter arrives, the foliage will have reached its final stage. Unlike many other deciduous plants, the fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ will hold on to its leaves throughout most of the winter. By the time the cultivar actually sheds its leaves during springtime, they will quickly be replaced by fresh growth. If you are lucky and the conditions are optimal, there will even already be fresh growth before the leaves are shed.
Fagus Sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ for Wildlife Hedges
As the naturally occurring common beech is native to western Europe, you will not have to worry if the ‘Atropurpurea’ variety will thrive in our climate: it will. It is used to growing in European conditions. This particular cultivar has been established fairly recently, however. After recognizing the ornamental value of the species, nurseries all over the world have been developing their own cultivars since the early nineteenth century. When one specific copper beech in the United States was described as “the finest copper beech in America” around the middle of the nineteenth century, that specimen was about 15 metres tall, which given its growth rate of 30 to 60 centimetres per year would mean that it was at least half a century old.
The copper beech is often planted as a standalone tree in large gardens and public parks, but it also makes an excellent hedging plant. Due to the fact that it does not shed its leaves, it can even make a fairly decent screening hedge, although we would generally recommend other growing species for that purpose. In addition, the fine grain of beechwood makes this wood type excellent for various woodworking purposes, especially after being steamed. As this relatively hard wood can be used for just about anything except for heavy structural support. It is often used to produce furniture, but it also makes an excellent firewood. Its fruits also attract wildlife, as birds and rodents like to eat them. Please keep in mind that these nuts are toxic to humans when consumed in large quantities.
Mixed Hedges with Fagus Sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’
Copper beech is an undemanding cultivar that tolerates a vast range of soil types, including chalk, sand and lime, which are generally considered to be difficult soils. Be sure to avoid planting your copper beech hedge in a heavy clay soil, however, as such soils are prone to becoming waterlogged, which is not ideal for copper beech, as it is not particularly fond of wet feet. Despite thriving in most other soils, copper beech will do best in a humus-rich soil, so it is wise to mix the planting soil with a pinch of special fertiliser or compost while you are planting your fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ to get the most out of your hedge. In the right conditions, fagus sylvatica ‘Atropurpurea’ can grow 30 to 60 centimetres per year.
If you are looking to make an outstanding formal hedge with as little effort as possible, copper beech is the right plant for you. One pruning session a year will help your copper beech hedge keep its shape, but it can also be left to grow in order to grow a hedge with a more wild, natural appearance that will have a higher value to wildlife. You can always grow a beautiful single species hedge with this beautiful cultivar, but another popular way to grow a beech hedge is by mixing two or more varieties of beech in a single row. By alternating green and purple varieties, you will be rewarded with a hedge of unparalleled beauty. Such a mixed beech hedge will certainly make your garden stand out.
Copper Beech – a Versatile Hedging Plant
The common beech is of course a beautiful plant with excellent qualities for hedging purposes, but if you are looking to combine the appearance of a beech hedge with a simply exceptional seasonal colouring, a copper beech hedge is the type of hedge to go for. Its fast growth rate will enable you to grow either a neatly trimmed, formal hedge or a rather informal hedge with a more natural, wild look, whereas most hedging plants only offer you one of either possibilities. You do not have to settle for either a green common beech hedge or a more colourful copper beech hedge, however, as a mixed hedge is sure to make your garden stand out and make you a beautiful garden to come home to. A copper beech hedge is simply a versatile hedge which can even deal with some of the most difficult soils.