Whether you want ex­tra pri­vacy and se­cu­rity, a haven for wildlife, fine fra­grance or fab­u­lous flow­ers, a hedge can pro­vide the an­swer, as Louise Cur­ley re­veals

Amateur Gardening - - News -

What’s good for wildlife, flow­ers, scent and fo­liage

It can be hard to get ex­cited about hedges. they qui­etly do their thing, defin­ing the boundaries of our gar­dens and pro­vid­ing a use­ful back­drop to other plant­ing.

But they can be so much more. It’s pos­si­ble to make a fea­ture of hedg­ing by in­cor­po­rat­ing it into your gar­den’s de­sign and cap­i­tal­is­ing on the ex­tra plant­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties a hedge of­fers. this could sim­ply be us­ing tra­di­tional hedg­ing plants such as yew, box and privet in a less con­ven­tional way – cloud prun­ing them into loose, un­du­lat­ing curves, per­haps – or it could mean grow­ing less com­monly used plants to cre­ate a hedge.

Within a gar­den, the hum­ble hedge can have a mul­ti­tude of func­tions. they pro­vide pri­vacy, screen off un­sightly ar­eas and muf­fle noise, while hedg­ing plants that form dense, prickly struc­tures can also add a de­gree of se­cu­rity. Shape­wise, there are plenty of op­tions, too – from the neatly trimmed to looser, more fluid ef­fects.

When it comes to de­sign, they play a vi­tal role: you can use hedges to di­vide your space into dif­fer­ent gar­den ‘rooms’; taller ones will help you cre­ate se­cret places, or you can cut a hole into a hedge to cap­ture a view – ei­ther tak­ing the eye be­yond the gar­den or giv­ing a glimpse into a hid­den cor­ner.

Hedges needn’t be high, how­ever. Nat­u­rally low-grow­ing or clip­pable plants can be used to make for­mal parter­res or to line a path. these may also add fra­grance, with both rose­mary and laven­der work­ing well as low­grow­ing hedg­ing struc­tures.

the right hedge can bring colour to a gar­den, whether that’s fresh vi­brant new growth in spring, the rust-brown dry leaves of beech and horn­beam in win­ter, deep red berries or the at­trac­tive blooms of es­cal­lo­nia or fuch­sia. they can even be a source of food – top choices in­clude hazels for nuts, species roses for hips, and black­thorn for sloes to flavour gin. And they are un­beat­able for at­tract­ing wildlife, pro­vid­ing shel­ter, nest­ing spots and sus­te­nance.

In fact, hedges are far from bor­ing, and au­tumn is prime plant­ing time. the ground is still warm and work­able, and bare root plants of de­cid­u­ous hedg­ing will be­come avail­able over the next few weeks. In­ex­pen­sive and easy to estab­lish, these are an ideal way of grow­ing a hedge that will do a lot more than just en­close your plot.

“Hedges play an in­valu­able role in gar­den de­sign”

Hedges of­fer lots of de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties and are great for cre­at­ing gar­den rooms. Pli­able wil­low is ideal for arches

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