Let nature show the way with seeds

A beautiful Taihaku cherry tree. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
A beautiful Taihaku cherry tree. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Do you want to grow a mighty oak from an acorn or the plants for a hawthorn hedge?

Take a leaf out of nature’s book and follow the natural process these seeds go through in the countryside.

First, collect the specimens. There’s a huge crop of haws along the bridleways and no shortage of horse and sweet chestnuts, acorns or pine cones, each of which can be grown with basic propagating facilities.

They first need the cold, freezing days of winter to break dormancy, followed by the warmth of spring for germination and growth. Some seeds may take two years to respond, as in nature, but if the pot is fixed in a permanent position outdoors, it requires little maintenance.

Using a large clay pot for preference, lay the seeds between 3cm layers of leaf mould (or compost) and sharp sand, finishing with a layer of grit on top. Put the pot in a cold frame or up against a wall outdoors. When seedlings eventually emerge transfer them to pots and grow on.

This is a satisfying way of achieving the plants for a robust hawthorn or ornamental rose hedge.

Recent research published by The Wildlife Trusts and Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, conclude that working with trees improves mental health – so get planting.