It’s too wet and cold outside to venture out so right now I’m plotting and planning. I want to add a bit of privacy to the back garden, I also need to find a way to allow birds to nest safely, and I definitely want colour and panache. Yes, dear reader, I’m thinking of great hedges!
When choosing suitable plants to use, don’t be fooled into the speed trap. Fast-growing hedges don’t stop at the height you want, so you must remove a lot of growth every year. Slow-growing hedges are much less effort, and many flowering shrubs can be used and are ideal for the smaller garden.
There are many different shades of pink and white on offer, but if you live in a cold district, make sure you choose one of the hardier cultivars such as ‘Donard Seedling’.
Prune it well in August to ensure plenty of flowers for next year.
For something different, try Ceanothus dentatus for a low hedge. After its stunning azure-blue flowers have faded, cut it back hard to control its vigour.
Elaeagnus ‘Limelight’ has flowers, which appear insignificant until their piercingly sweet fragrance fills the autumn air. As if this were not enough, its handsome green and yellow evergreen foliage provides a splendid screen throughout the year.
The only cautionary note here is, that should you spot any stems with all-green leaves, remove them immediately. Allow them to develop, and in time they will overtake and swamp the variegated ones.
Small hedges can also be a wonderful design accessory.
Lavender makes a colourful, aromatic edging and, if cut back after flowering, will remain shapely for several years. One of the best is Lavandula ‘Hidcote’ which has rich dark purple blooms and which can be grown easily from seed
For a well-drained soil in sun, Rosmarinus ‘Miss Jessup’s Upright’ is a particularly vigorous and erect form of rosemary which will edge your vegetable patch and provide cooking flavour at the same time!
I’ve used Berberis thunbergii ‘Bagatelle’ as an edging to Helichrysum italicum where its purple bronze foliage is a stunning contrast to the silver fronds of the herb, especially where the helichrysum is trimmed before it flowers.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with plants for hedging. The commonly used hedging plants may bring order and privacy, but the adventurous amongst you can create screens with drama, colour and panache!
Valerie McBride Munro is a qualified horticulturist. As Auntie Planty she offers gardening problem solving sessions in your own garden.
© 2014 Valerie McBride-Munro.