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Looking for an evergreen variety or two to establish windbreaks in an exposed position on heavy clay soil that can get very dry in summer. Temperate climate in the UK, the site gets plenty of sun.

I can find dozens of evergreens advertised, but many need acid/peaty soil and nobody mentions clay.

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Probably the toughest one that will tolerate the conditions you mention is Prunus laurocerasus, commonly known as cherry laurel. There are a few varieties of this plant now,some with narrower, neater leaves. It does get quite large though at up to 25 feet with a spread of up to 10/12 feet over time. Cotoneaster cornubia is semi evergreen, has red berries in winter, but tends to become tree like over time. Berberis varieties (make sure you choose an evergreen one - the purple/red and yellow leaved varieties drop their leaves in winter) will also tolerate those conditions,but they do not get quite so tall and are thorny - Berberis darwinii gets to about 8 feet tall.

As the soil is clay and probably turns to concrete in summer when it dries out,unless you can keep them very well watered right up to end of October, all of these are best planted in autumn.

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  • Thanks. Have got some laurel in, potted on and hardening off. Some pyracanthus too (how can anybody not fall for the "firethorn"?) – Guy Inchbald May 27 at 20:10
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I have Trachelospermum Jasminoides, Fake Jasmine, for this.

It copes well with clay and wind. It fares less well in the shadier parts of the garden but does survive.

You wil need a trellis or similar for it to climb up and it will not be as dense a growth as cotoneaster or berberis but it breaks up the wind effectively and is covered in fragrant flowers all summer.

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Elaeagnus x ebbingei and Elaeagnus × ebbingei 'Limelight' (a nicely variegated type) are both fast growing, tough evergreens. As ever, you'll get the best results if you plant and maintain the shrubs properly. Dig nice big planting holes. Water as necessary until they're established and keep the surrounding area (a one metre plus circle around each shrub) weed free.

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