For the love of hedges

There are some garden jobs I like more than others. I like what happens when I have completed the mowing – neat turf always makes the garden look smart, even if the beds are full of weeds – but I always think I could be doing something more creative while I am walking backwards and forwards for what seems like an eternity. I have moments when I hate weeding too. This dates back to when I had a Sunday job while at school working in a private garden. The lady owner was a very keen and knowledgeable gardener and had large terraces below her substantial house full of dwarf shrubs and alpines. I did the job with my friend and he had no garden knowledge so on the Sunday morning he would get the digging to do. I, on the other hand, because I knew what was a plant and what was a weed, had to hand weed the terraces almost every week, come rain or shine, or frost. A morning weeding in winter left me with frozen fingers and not much will to live. But, with the hourly rate of 35p, I came away with just over £1 each week. Luckily I had other jobs, like working in a greengrocer on Saturdays and washing up in a restaurant Friday and Saturday nights, so by my 17th birthday I had £240 for my first motorbike.

I am also not a great fan of hedge cutting (by now you are wondering what sort of gardening I actually like!). Done in August, it is a dusty, grubby job, but necessary and ultimately satisfying. So it is odd that I have planted so many hedges in the garden, not just around the edge but also to divide the plot into sections. Unlike fences and walls, hedges are not instant and you need faith. In 2018 the hedges had been planted and some of the beds laid out but the hedges were not making much impact. It makes you impatient when the bedding plants are taller than the hedges.

The east side of the garden in 2020

Then, yesterday, working in the garden I suddenly realised that, although it was quite windy, the plants in a border were not flapping around. The hedges were working. They had grown. They were dividing the garden into the desired areas. And some of the trees, mostly birches, were now trees (albeit small ones).

I gotta have faith.

And yes, I need to trim them soon. I know I have to be aware of nesting birds but the hedges are not quite dense enough yet and I don’t want to encourage them to nest really because of the cat. They can shelter in them while they dash out to eat my fruit or feed on the bird feeders but I don’t want fledglings dropping to their death. Fortunately there are plenty of big hedges around the garden where they can build to their heart’s content – in fact the big hedge at the bottom of the garden is full of starlings and I enjoy their manic antics.

3 Comments on “For the love of hedges”

  1. Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes
    May 27, 2023 at 9:19 am #

    We do need an awful lot of patience to be a gardener…

  2. Paddy Tobin
    May 27, 2023 at 8:44 pm #

    You didn’t mention which plant you used for your hedges!

    • thebikinggardener
      May 28, 2023 at 10:39 am #

      The most successful have been hornbeam. The beech is still struggling but it is the soil that lays wet in winter. Hornbeam is far tougher but the leaves, though they remain on the hedge in winter and not such a nice colour. I have a short hedge of griselinia and although it sis not my favourite plant, it has done well and I am warming to it!

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