Hedging my bets

Hedges are great. I mean, the right kind of hedges a great. A nice beech hedge, that’s a great hedge. But not all hedges are planted equal. Like, when someone, for reasons only known to themselves, decides to plant six different large shrubs within the space three metres, without thinking of how big they will become and how much work it would require to maintain them. This is decidedly not great at all.

Looking towards the front garden from the street. It's hidden behind the mixed hedge though, so you cannot see anything but the hedge. The hedge sits above a small grey stone wall.
The hedge. On the right (orange brown-leaves) is the beech hedge separating our garden from our neighbour’s. That’s staying.

The front hedge that went alongside the our street’s footpath (above), was the latter type of hedge. It was a mix of several large shrubs including a Mahonia, a Weigela, and some broom-like plant that I never worked out what it was. A Weigela can be something like 2.5m x 2.5m, a Mahonia can grow to 1.5m x 1.5m and up. The space is only 3m wide, so I think you can see the problem. And more to the point, none of these are meant to be plants that you grow to be a neat hedge to the border of your property. Apart from anything, they can get woody lower down, and more importantly, they require something like fortnightly hedge trims to keep them from becoming a little hedge of horrors. And who wants to spend once a fortnight trimming hedges?! For comparison, our beech hedge only needs a proper trim once a year.

The front garden as you see it from the front door. It is enclosed by a beech hedge to the left-middle with it's old orange-brown leaves, and by the street facing old hedge that is mostly green. The borders are a mix of small shrubs, grasses and flowering bulbs like orange tulips. There is a quince tree in the middle.
Looking towards the street, the front garden before the hedge was removed.

I decided these had to go. I had originally kept them when I first redesigned the front garden, before I realised quite how much work they required in order to keep them from trying to take over the rest of my garden and the street footpath. They also stopped a lot of light getting into the garden, so removing the hedge would improve that too.

A very large rootball of one of the shrubs that was removed by the landscapers. About 1m wide x 80cms tall.
A massive rootballs from just one plant in the old hedge

So I arranged for my trusty landscapers, Mark and John, to remove them. Oh, and also remove a more than 6ft tall privet hedge. Did I mention that? It was was between our and our neighbours driveways. And was also trying to take over. The privet hedge has been replaced by a low brick wall, which will need no maintaining, except for the alpines I’m going to plant in there, and alpines need little maintenance. I’m going to be creating an ‘alpine wall’ like I did in a previous garden. But more on that another day.

A prostrate, mat-forming, evergreen shrub, bearing small, hairy, elliptic to narrowly oblong, dark green leaves and cymes of deep blue flowers from late spring into summer.
Newly planted Lithodora diffusa ‘Heavenly Blue’

The removal on the hedge has given me a whole new space to plant up – yay! Well, I mean, I’ll buy the plants and place them, and gardener Andrea, will plant them out.

Some of the new plants include Cistus × purpureus Alan Fradd, a couple of Heleniums and Geums, plus some Campanula, Erica and Auberita to grow over and down the front wall. And I’ve moved a couple of blue Salvia’s into there as well. I also had the pebbles in the path leading to the Quince tree changed to purple shale. I’m kind of unsteady on my feet a lot of the time (coz ME) and I fell a few times. The purple shale is flatter and much easier to walk on (good learning point that).

The front garden, as you see it from the front door, now sans hedge. I kept the beech hedge to the left-middle with it's old orange-brown leaves. You can see straight onto the street (road) and there is so much more light now in the garden. You can see some flowers, such as orange and red tulips, along with the Quince tree in the middle.
Looking from the front door towards the street. No hedge! More light!

Removing the front hedge has allowed me to rethink that part of the front garden border, and a small path has been added, to make it easier to get around to different parts of the border for maintenance. Whilst you can see it now, once the plants have grown into the space, won’t really notice it.

Looking at the front garden from the street, this time the hedge has been removed. The part of the garden next to the street looks a bit bare as the new plants haven't grown much yet, and it definitely needs more Spring bulbs. This time next year it will look fab.

Obviously, it looks a bit sparse now, but I bet within a couple of months it will really get growing. In Autumn I’ll be adding more Spring flowering bulbs too. I’m pleased to see the back of the old hedge and look forward to seeing how the new border grows.

It’s good to hedge your bets. Sometimes, the hedge loses.

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