Australian House & Garden
Living on the edge
Hedges do more than provide privacy: the right specimen can bring fragrance, flowers and order to the garden too. Here, Tammy Huynh shares her top five picks.
Hedges are one of the most versatile design elements in the garden. They’re perfect for disguising fences or views, setting boundaries, or creating year-round greenery. While formal in nature, they’re not confined to traditional garden styles. Maintaining a hedge is no tall order, but make no mistake, they do require a bit of time and work to get established. Not all plants are suited for the job, but these five candidates will grow into lovely lush specimens.
SASANQUA CAMELLIA ( CAMELLIA SASANQUA)
If you want a flowering hedge, sasanqua camellia (1) will deliver. Its dense growth habit, made up of small, glossy green leaves make it ideal for hedging and single, semi-double or double blooms in shades of white, pink or red cover the hedge from autumn and well into winter. Grows 2-6 metres tall, but size can be maintained with regular trimming. Prefers slightly acidic soil enriched with organic matter and sun to part shade. Mulch well to prevent the shallow roots from drying out.
COASTAL ROSEMARY ( WESTRINGIA FRUTICOSA)
A hardy, native specimen (2) with attractive silvery-grey foliage that is tolerant of dry and coastal conditions. Small, white or blue-purple flowers appear sporadically throughout the year. While it naturally grows into a neat bun shape, westringia can be tightly clipped into a low-to-medium hedge, between 0.3-2 metres tall, depending on the variety. Ideal for native gardens or any landscape where a hardy hedge is required.
RESILIENCE LILLY PILLY ( SYZYGIUM ‘RESILIENCE’)
Lilly pilly (3) is one of the most popular hedging plants. It’s fast growing with shiny green foliage that emerges in copper-red tones before ageing to green. ‘Resilience’ is bred to be resistant to psyllids, a common and difficult to treat sap-sucking pest that causes the leaves to pucker and become distorted. It can grow up to 5 metres tall, and is perfect as a privacy screen, windbreak or as an evergreen backdrop.
MURRAYA ( MURRAYA PANICULATA)
Also a popular hedge, murraya (4) has handsome dark-green foliage and sweetly perfumed blooms that appear in spring and summer, although, it has a tendency to spot flower after heavy rains. It’s a fast grower, reaching 3-4 metres with a dense compact habit. Plant in full sun, in rich, well-drained soil. Murraya prefers warm climates, so for cooler areas, Mexican orange blossom ( Choisya ternata) is a great alternative.
SWEET VIBURNUM ( VIBURNUM ODORATISSIMUM)
This evergreen shrub (5) has attractive large, leathery foliage that bears creamy-white, fragrant flowers in spring and summer. The seasonal interest continues as the blooms are followed by red berries that blacken as they mature, and the new foliage emerges copper-bronze. A vigorous grower, to 3-4 metres, it needs regular trimming over the summer months to keep growth contained. A more compact choice is ‘Dense Fence’, which grows to 2.5 metres.
Take mature height and width into consideration when planting. If planted too close, lower branches suffer from poor light but too far apart and they will take forever to grow into a luxuriant screen.