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Enhance Your Garden With Evergreen Hedge Plants

Nov 9, 2007
There are times when privacy matters. Your neighbour could start an outdoor life drawing class or the council decide to build a bus stop put outside your front garden. Maybe the lads from the pub next door have found a shortcut across your front lawn. There are three solutions (apart from putting up with the intrusion or moving).

You can build a wall; erect a fence or plant a hedge. Walls cost a lot of money, need permission and are great for graffiti. Fences cost less, sometimes need permission, are a reasonable graffiti surface and have a relatively limited life.

A nice evergreen hedge on the other hand is cheap, bad for graffiti and will live longer than most of us. Chosen well it adds value to your house and will give you years of pleasure.

So what do you choose? For sheer elegance, nothing beats yew - it is the oldest living plant in the UK, it is woven into our lives and deaths - just look in any churchyard. It also happens to grow just about anywhere. Yew is dark green, close leaved, clips beautifully and grows a lot faster than most people imagine. It is cool right now and being yew, it has been cool for some thousands of years. Box is nearly as smart and probably better for edging rose borders and kitchen gardens. Like yew it only needs clipping once a year, but it grows much more slowly. Both forgive the odd slip with the shears... in fact if you cut either to the ground it will regrow.

Roadside dwellers should take a look at laurel and privet. Everyone knows Common or Cherry Laurel. Large, very shiny fleshy leaves, scented white flowers and red cherry like fruit. It grows in any well-drained soil in sun or shade and its foliage is the best in the business at deadening traffic noise and headlights. Portugal laurel is less well known, but has the same characteristics except its leaves are darker, less shiny and smaller. Where space is at a premium, privet may be the answer; it takes any amount of air pollution, clips really well, grows in any soil and tolerates dry shade.

Conifers make good hedges too, although they are unforgiving of mistakes when being clipped. However they grow fast (up to 80cms a year) and so hide eyesores more quickly than other evergreens. Plant Western Red Cedar, False Cypress or Western Hemlock (you will live to regret Leylandii) for quick growing screening; all are best in for hedges 3 metres tall and upwards.

Security figures large for some. Ever tried barging through a holly hedge? Well don't. Plain old holly, green or variegated (or you can mix the two for a more subtle effect) makes a beautiful formal hedge and a formidable barrier to boot. It grows quickly, clips well and within 3-4 years of planting a good holly hedge can quite literally stop a charging bull. Pyracantha flowers hugely and is covered in berries in winter. It also has thorns like hypodermics.

For those who live by the sea life would be great except for the fact that most plants don't like salt air. Except Escallonia, which loves it, carries scented red, white or pink flowers depending on variety, grows happily to 2-3 metres and had evergreen foliage that smells of allspice. It does not like cold spots though. Griselinia, which is also known as New Zealand Privet comes in green or green and gold foliage. It too likes the odd gale and a bit of flung spray. Its flowers are insignificant, but its broad, fleshy leaves make one of the best windbreaks going.
About the Author
Expert gardener Shaun Parker looks into the variety of uses for hedge plants within your garden. To find out more please visit http://store.ashridgetrees.co.uk/
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