Hedges, both practical and ornamental have been part of landscapes (around the world) for centuries. They were originally used to create borders around private property and cultivated fields, to protect from prevailing winds, and then as an integral element in garden design.
There are many options for hedging shrubs or trees. Often what determines what type you use comes down to your growing zone. For many years boxwood hedging was not offered in my city probably because there weren’t many varieties hardy in zone 4. When I first found them at a garden centre, I couldn’t get a cart fast enough to buy every boxwood insight. (It was like that Ikea commercial “Start the Car”!) Over the years I have planted many, many, many boxwood shrubs and to date, with burlap protection, most of them have survived our frigid winters.
I fell in love with boxwood during my first trip to Paris. On many occasions since I have daydreamed about volunteering with the City of Paris for a summer working side by side with the gardeners at the Luxembourg Garden. Every year they present a different colour scheme along with different planting materials creating a garden paradise. What I especially love are the tiny boxwood hedges around the annual flower gardens along the paths close to the Palace.
I grew up in a 1950’s suburb. All of our neighbours had a huge expanse of lawn in their front yards. Ours was the only one on the block that had a cotoneaster hedge that ran parallel to the city sidewalk. My dad kept it trimmed to perfection. Years later, my parents moved to another new home, and again, they had a cotoneaster hedge running along the walkway to the workshop and greenhouse.
One day when I was visiting, my dad was out clipping the hedge. I asked how he managed to keep it so straight. He said casually that it just took practice and handed me the hedge clippers to finish the job. I was petrified, but he calmly sat on his lawn chair and assured me that even if I made a mistake, it was OK…the hedge would grow back.
I, too, have a cotoneaster hedge in my front garden. Every time I clip the hedge I think of my dad…I think he would approve!
The leaves on my hedge have opened this week, and soon it will be time to start trimming it up. I have to say, though, that I love this hedge more in the winter when it’s covered with a dusting of snow and lite up with hundreds of mini lights!
This week I planted a lavender hedge bordering my rose garden. Although it may be unrealistic to assume that my hedge will rival the lavender grown in the south of France, I’m hoping to capture a hint of the scent that wafts through the air as you alight the train on arrival at the Avignon station…unforgettable.
Although hedges are not low maintenance, they add structure to any garden and offer beauty in all seasons.