HEDGE YOUR BETS
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.