DescriptionBoth common green beech (Fagus sylvatica) and purple beech (Fagus sylvatica atropurpurea) make some of the best formal hedging plants. They grow well in most sites (except wet soils), grow reasonably fast, hold their copper-coloured leaves through winter, and respond well to regular clipping. We tend to avoid the term copper beech as it can lead to confusion - some refer to the green-leaved variety as this, some the purple-leaved. Both work equally well as a long-lived neat hedge, which can be kept at any height between 1.2m and 8m as required.
Plant either a single colour, or mix and match the colours for a spectacular hedge. The renowned gardener and writer Christopher Lloyd was particularly fond of planting mixed colour hedges (they work together in any ratio), where they combine to create a dramatic backdrop to summer borders.
For wetter soils, the closest alternative is hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) which has very similar attributes but tolerates sites with poor drainage.
For most garden hedges, plant in a single row, spacing plants every 30cm.