One hedge has been planted to enclose the orchard. It faces south-east, and is swept by harsh winds. The soil is dry and slightly sandy; a clump of silver birch, conifers and willows swallow the rain. Rabbits have a large burrow nearby, and deer graze the area too. It's not an easy site.
Native hedging mix
I planted a mix of bareroot native hedging: field maple, hawthorn, beech, dogwood, dogrose, holly, as well as a few privets. I protected the plants with plastic shields, and watered them regularly throughout the summer.
What survived (and thrived)
But a good number died altogether or were nibbled to death. Those which fared best were:
1. Rosa canina (dogrose). The roses grew strongly despite the dry conditions, and the rabbits did not touch the prickly stems or green leaves. These were undoubtedly the top performers.
2. Holly. Believe it or not, deer and rabbits nibbled all all my hollies, but when I protected them with larger shields, the plants recovered. They're slower growing than the roses, but they'll be a good hedge filler.
4. The privet. The rabbits didn't seem to touch this. It suffered in the dry conditions, but recovered well when watered.
Choose carefully, water generously, and protect against nibblers
So, key learning: pack your hedge with tough plants like roses and holly; water regularly; and make sure you invest in high shields to protect against those not-so-cute bunnies.