Frans Fontaine Hornbeam Trees - Summer Screen in Landscape - July 2022

Frans Fontaine European Hornbeam Hedge

At the top of this post is a look at the row of Frans Fontaine Fastigiate Hornbeam trees that we planted back in 2018 along the northern border of our property.  These trees were planted as a screen between our backyard, our screened porch and our neighbor's house.  When we put them in, our neighbors to the norther were in a small ranch that was set pretty far back from the property line.  A few years back, a new house was built and the screening was needed more than ever.  

[NOTE:  If you are here reading about the really amazing Frans Fontaine Columnar Hornbeam Trees and want to know the full history we've had with planting a row of eight of them, you can head to this post from August of 2021 that includes links to their full history dating back to being planted in 2018.  Alternatively, you can poke around at this [Frans Fontaine] post tag.  Or start here with my post showing them being planted as 2" caliper trees in 2018.]

The last time that I documented these Frans Fontaine Hornbeam Columnar trees in the [tree diary] was back last Winter when I showed how they were clinging to many of their dry, desiccated leaves with a phenomenon called foliar marcescence.  

I mention that these screen our backyard.  And that's true.  One dynamic taking place back there is a change in grade between our houses.  I'm *pretty sure* that the Village required these swales to be installed/created between our houses along with a couple of massive drywells to retain and redirect surface water.  

These Hornbeams are planted down in the bottom of those two swales.  That means that the groundwater from our property and from my neighbor to the north kind of *washes* down towards them every time we see rain.  I'm pretty sure that's why these have seen so much success growing in just four growing seasons.  ('18-->'19, '19-->'20, '20-->'21 and now '21-->'22).

I still have not pruned these in any meaningful sense - aside from an errant branch from one of the trees closer to our front gate that are overhanging our side path.  

These trees have over exceeded my expectations.  Both in terms of how quickly they would grow in and how they look from a landscape perspective.  Have a look again at them above and then go look at this post from last August that shows their full history.  In particular, check out the photo showing the gap as it looks heading towards my neighbors' house.  

The gap was pretty clear between tree four (from the left) and tree five.  Look at the photo here to see the gap last August.  Today?  The gap is still the *largest*, but it has mostly closed up.  Below, you can see a 'head-on' photo of the gap from my property looking north at my neighbor's outdoor fireplace and chimney.  

Barely anything visible through there, right?


  1. thanks for the update Jack. Your Hornbeams are gorgeous. I live just outside of Toronto and planted 5 hornbeams as screening hedge last fall and love to see how your progresses through-out the years. I was going to go with beech but you gave me the idea of going with columnar european hornbeams. I love them so far.


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