Planting a mixed hedge of native species will provide a very valuable addition to any wildlife garden. Hawthorn, for instance, provides food for more than 150 different insect species, and the May flowers provide much needed early-season nectar for pollinators. By autumn the flowers have turned into the red berries beloved by birds. Moth caterpillars eat the leaves and other insects such as Peacock butterflies will roost there. It even has its own bug – the Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) – named after it.
Several different plants can be mixed to create a rural style hedge. Shrub mixes are sometimes sold for exactly this purpose (Conservation hedge packs).
An example of such a pack is 50% Hawthorn, and the rest made up of 5 other species from the following list:
Blackthorn, Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris), Dog-rose, Common Dogwood, Field Maple, Guelder Rose, Hazel, Spindle (Euonymus europaeus), Sweet-briar, Wayfaring Tree.
It is also worth experimenting with are Alder Buckthorn, Spindle, Field Rose, Burnet Rose, Midland Hawthorn, and Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum).
Roses that can be mixed with other hedging shrubs include Field Rose, Dog Rose and Burnet Rose.
Field Rose and Sweet-briar can also make a hedge in their own right.
Such natural hedging does entail more work to keep healthy and tidy, and there is an increased chance of infection with pests and diseases, such as Honey Fungus. But that is the nature of plants that live closely with the local ecosystem.
However the rewards of providing food and safe shelter for birds and insects should far outweigh any downside.