Washington hawthorn

Crataegus phaenopyrum is a beautiful small and multi-trunked tree with pink flowers, red fruit in fall, and prodigious thorns.

The thorns are really immature branches, but that nicety doesn’t matter much in the real world. They are two inches long, needle sharp and sturdy enough to do real damage to mammals, thereby both providing songbirds with excellent nesting habitat and making them hazardous to the gardener. I am growing three specimens as a barrier fence on the driveway side of the garden. It was difficult to get a clear picture with all the green-on-green in the summer garden – there will be a follow up post in December that shows more structure.

These trees are very sensitive to salt so I don’t plan to use them next to the road, but they’ve survived along the driveway. The two trees in the foreground are 6 years old and have a main trunk caliper of 4″. I’ve pruned them to 8′ – do I wish I’d pruned them shorter? Yes, but I’m afraid that opportunity has passed a few years back – I’m not getting into the middle of these even with my long handled loppers. I’ll begin to tie the widest branches together to make a fence  this spring, and at 8′ by 3′ deep I think it will be as effective against deer as Sleeping Beauty’s hedge of hawthorns was against the her suitors.

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