HEDGE YOUR BETS

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

Hedg­ing your bets, play­ing the money mar­ket with hedg­ing funds or just sim­ply hedg­ing around an is­sue to avoid tack­ling an an­swer ... in the mid­dle of it all is a gar­den term that de­scribes how we have lived for thou­sands of years.

Those gar­gan­tuan blocks of conifers planted to form a mas­sive green buf­fer for a lower crop or a wind break such as stag­gered plant­ings of Caribbean pines, are still to be seen around the Table­lands and lower coastal ar­eas.

These were cheap and cheer­ful cousins to the south­ern Ra­di­ata Pine that in them­selves pro­vided a good in­dus­try while also be­com­ing a weed.

Oth­ers, such as the yew hedges of Europe’s stately homes that have been there for 400 to 500 years re­main tes­ta­ment to the rigor and tenac­ity of these plants.

Prop­erty bound­aries have been de­fined of­ten by a slow- or fast-grow­ing hedge to con­tain an­i­mals, crops or keep oth­ers out. Fenc­ing ma­te­ri­als are al­ways min­i­mal and ex­pen­sive so care­fully planted wound or plaited hedge can be as good as barbed wire fence at the best of times.

Our do­mes­tic gar­den hedges are in­stal­la­tions for the same rea­sons but more of a look than a cause. They define and di­rect, and tell you when to stop look­ing and move your eye. The tra­di­tional box (buxus) hedge is a cold-cli­mate plant that slowly reaches its ma­tu­rity with its small leaf com­paction. Other more botan­i­cal blun­der­buss blowouts such as Sheena’s Gold, which we have all used, is great if you sit on top of it all day and trim it to shape. But let it get away and it’s like grap­pling with the worst bram­ble you could find.

Mur­raya ex­ot­ica (mock or­ange for its beau­ti­fully scented jes­samine per­fume (al­ways be­fore rain), is a big tree if you let it go. It can be con­tained with a full cover of fo­liage at the top, sides and front de­pend­ing on the lighter an­gle you chop and shave it to get the max­i­mum light. Rather than a straight front, have an an­gle so the fo­liage gets bet­ter sun and will grow to the ground.

M.eot­ica’s smaller cousin Mur­raya min-a-min is also a good foil for a smaller plant­ing edge or op­pos­ing hedge that is less ram­pant. Pretty per­fumed white flow­ers have the same ef­fect as its larger cousin. If you’re not the square box type of hav­ing a hedge around a gar­den you could take some time de­sign­ing a novel en­try of hedges from the street to your door. See­ing the coun­cil set­back re­quire­ments are caus­ing use of space other than that could be more ben­e­fi­cial if they al­lowed the odd house for­ward of its building line, but that’s an­other story.

Map out a corner of a back­yard for a maze for kids us­ing smaller, colour­ful plants such as the dwarf ixo­ras. This keeps it tidy and eas­ier for them. You can see through but they can get from A to B with some fun.

Re­mem­ber, soil prepa­ra­tion is es­sen­tial. Carry out some ir­ri­ga­tion and mulch fol­lowed by the good stuff such as Blood & Bone for a few starters.

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