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What Makes A Great Garden – February

It may well be February, but if the uncultivated wilds of North County Dublin can look so attractive because of one or two additional plants, then why not our gardens. I’ve always believed that a good great garden, irrespective of budget, size and style should always and at all times attract you in to it and want you to spend more time in it.

Recorded on Sunday evening, the following are my thoughts and ramblings with that in mind. Make yourself a cuppa and have a listen.

What Makes A Great Garden (mp3)

Thoughts and comments ?

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10 Plants for an Irish Hedge

Hedges can be used to create intrigue in the garden, for biodiversity, a wind break or noise filter, or simply just for aesthetic and design purposes.

Whether you consider the more uniform route is best for making your great outdoors greater or maybe, you simply prefer the planting a living photosynthetic softer approach between you and next doors; brought in instant or planted as youngsters, here are 10 hedge choices you may or not, have considered.

Hedge n 1 a fence or boundary formed by closely growing bushes or shrubs

1. Berberis – Barberry

There are more reasons to dislike the Berberis than to love it. All of those reasons seem to be it’s quite compact and thorny nature Nothing a pair of welding gloves won’t solve I should add. But thorns aside, it is a beautiful plant that is great for nature and should you be looking for a spot to block off or stop traffic passing through then this is the plant you want. A genus of around 450 species, I can only be a little vague in my specifics. I’ve bad memories of this plant and my resulting shredded legs as a child and pierced hands in my early days of the horticultural trade.

  • Peter recommends: Berberis darwinii

2. Forsythia

Possibly better for the more informal type hedge, but I absolutely love this plant for its Spring time yellow flowers on bare stems. A little like the more vigorous Fuchsia’s, you can cut this shrub back to about half it height every year, which may appear a little harsh, but worth it in order to get flower growth covering the stems. After flower it goes to green leaf and shortly after that happens I tend to cut mine back. My recommended type grows to about 10′ fall. Fresh flowers on my kitchen table in Spring.

  • Peter recommends: Forsythia lynnwood Gold

3. Cypress – Lawson & Leyland

Chaemaecyparis lawsoniana [Lawson cypress] and x Cupressocyparis Leylandii [Leyland cypress]. I remember years ago asking a friend his thoughts on the Cypress as a hedge and whilst I find it really hard to say anything good about these fellows, his answer contained the words petrol and box of matches. The Lawson can grow to about 125′ tall – The Leyland can to about 120′ tall – unless you own acres hectares [plural] of land – it is recommended you don’t plant these. People like to tell me they’ll keep them controlled, they usually don’t.

  • Peter recommends – none

4. Laurel – Prunus and Laurus

bay laurel

Asking for laurel as a hedge is like asking for a vehicle. It is that vague. The more common or usually used however is most probably the Prunus laurocerasus [cherry laurel] which can grow up to 30′ tall; make the mistake if you wish and choose the Prunus lusitanica [portugal laurel] which grows up to 70′ tall – or the Prunus otto luyken if you like it a lot smaller. Personally, I prefer the Laurus nobilis [bay laurel] which grows up to 40′ tall – but is very easdily controlled, produces a beautiful flower and berry and doubles up as a herb. I have about 20 of theses in my own back garden.

  • Peter recommends – Laurus nobilis

5. BambooFargesia and Phyllostachys

phyllostachys

Knowing your plants, botanically, once again really does pay off. Take the simple example of the 2 bamboo types. The last Fargesia I planted will only ever grow to about 12′ tall – whereas the Phyllostachys aurea to about 30′ tall. Buy them in a little more mature and it is now growth per annum that is the only consideration one should have.

Either or I love the rustle, the more feminine flow and the less vigorous overall feel of the Fargesia. A little different as a hedge but, works extremely well for the less formal gardener.

  • Peter recommends – Fargesia nitida

6. Griselinia

griselinia hedge

Variegated or not, the evergreen Griselinia is without question the darling of the Irish hedge family. Although it did suffer a bad low temperature beating in the last seasons, it is pretty much indestructible. It’s glossy green foliage forms a beautiful back drop for any garden or divide, grows really well in the Irish climate and is a dream with which show off ones ability to cut hedges perfectly level. It can grow to around 24′ tall and get a little woody internally but that’s nothing a good hard cut back won’t solve. On a side note, I’m not overly keen on the variegated variety.

  • recommended variety: Griselinia littoralis

7. Ligustrum – Privot

ligustrum ovalifolium aurea variegata

Variegated or, gold or green, next to the Griselinia [nooted above] the Privot hedge was the Irish gardening must have of the late 1960’s and may never fully become dated. Works extremely well as a hedge as the internodal distance is quite short. Better than that, if it ever gets there, it does flower and produces a fruit. I’ve seen it grow up to about 12 foot tall and become quite woody beneath. A good hard cut back does this stalwart no harm.

  • recommended variety: Ligustrum ovalifolium aurea variegata

8. Fagus – Beech

beech

A great hedge that for some estranged meaning and reason is labelled evergreen, which doesn’t really make sense when referring to copper beech. Humour aside [?], do consider that the same plant used for hedging has a bit of a split peronality and also thinks it will become a tree. In that context I tend to trim its centres with a lopping shears first and then a light trim with a petrol cutters. A haven for biodiversity, it’s nuts are edible and the new growth when it appears is just stunning. It can grow to about 75 foot tall. Best planted bare root or root balled.

  • Peter recommends – Fagus sylvatica

9. Crataegus – Hawthorn

Of the same family as the Rose [rosaceae], if you ever wanted to do something for the environment, I highly recommend planting some of these beauties. Thorned, flower producing, edible berries as a fruit and a real beauty when you think just what the Irish climate has thrown at it over the centuries. This fellow can also grow to become a tree about 24′ tall, is steeped in Irish mythology and is almost guaranteed to grow just about anywhere. I’ve about 20 or so of these in my garden.

  • Peter recommends: Crataegus monogyna

10. Buxus – Box

box hedge

Low and slow growing, when the box hedge is trained and grown properly, it’s new growth is a beautiful and stunning lush dark green. Very reticent of the ye olde type gardens, surprising maybe it can grow to around 14′ tall which may come as a surprise for some to hear. Then again do considers it is of a genus of about 70 species – once again pick the right Buxus. Family members aside, it can get a little woody and one whilst one may get away with the ill pruning of other hedge types, errors here may not grow back within one season. I love it dearly. One should have no problems at all if managed correctly.

  • Peter recommends: buxus sempervirens

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