Carpinus betulus fastigiata (Fastigiate Hornbeam)

Well known deciduous tree – highly distinctive with a kind of tear-drop shape. It can grow to 35ft after 35 years. Good for formal planting – avenues, rows and matrices (plural of matrix). You’ll spot these in urban planting because of the shape whether in the summer or the winter but they’re probably most frequently noticed in the autumn when they go a uniform yellow all over. They really stand out in the autumn. Any old soil but they need space to show off their shape.

Fine specimens hiding the Cascades Shopping Centre from the A3 in the middle of Portsmouth on the way to the Isle of Wight Ferry terminal.

The name Hornbeam is derived from the fact the timber is exceptionally hard and hard wearing. Traditionally, it was used for the replaceable teeth on timber cog wheels used in wind and water mills. Many years ago, I was a cabinet maker and used to buy timber from Agates in Horsham. I once asked Wally (the mill foreman) what this little known timber called Hornbeam was like. He gave the memorable and accurate reply : “It’s like f***in’ ‘ard beech mate“.

 

N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.

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Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.

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