Burke's Backyard

Tapestry Hedge

In the Garden > Gardening Styles and Feature

If you're tired of hedges that are boring and predictable, a tapestry hedge is a very attractive option. Tapestry hedges are made up of a range of different plants, chosen for foliage colour, texture, flowers, berries and fragrance. In our segment Don showed a charming tapestry hedge made up of abelia (Abelia x grandiflora), variegated pittosporum (Pittosporum eugenioides ‘Variegatum’) and euonymus (Euonymus japonicus ‘Ovatus Aureus’).

Hedging Tips When planning your tapestry hedge, look for shrubs of similar mature size. Until they mature, more vigorous shrubs will probably need to be pruned more often than slow growing shrubs. Try also to match their cultural requirements. Some plants prefer acid soil, others like lime; some love sunshine, others prefer shade; some need a lot of water, while others are drought tolerant. When trimming hedges, one big mistake that lots of people make is to ‘trust their eye’ and they end up with a wobbly looking hedge. It doesn’t take much time to set up a couple of string lines as a guide, and they will help you cut to a uniform height and width. Just trim down to the lowest point, following the string lines and it will have a professional finish every time. Prune hedges as often as needed to maintain their shape and form. Some may require one or two trims per year, others more. It is better to trim a hedge regularly during its life than to allow it to grow unpruned to the desired height and then commence pruning when it’s too late. In most warm and temperate areas hedges can be pruned at any time of the year. In cooler areas, however, make the last trim in mid to late summer, to enable the new flush of growth to mature before winter frosts arrive. Leave flowering hedges such as azaleas, camellias and photinias untrimmed until flowering has finished. Simply trim the plant all over, top and sides, to encourage dense, bushy growth. The aim is to prune recent growth rather than prune away old wood. Stand back at regular intervals to review your progress. It is better to cut off too little than too much.

Plants for hedging

Tall hedges: choose from bay (Laurus nobilis), Pittosporum cvs., Teucrium fruticans, camellias, photinia, Acmena smithii var. minor, Syzygium australe ‘Hunchy’ or ‘Elite’, Viburnum tinus and V. odoratissimum. Murraya paniculata can be trained as a tall or low hedge. x Cupressocyparis ‘Leighton Green’, ‘Naylor’s Blue’ and ‘Castlewellan Gold’ also make good tall hedges.

Low hedges: many lilly pillies are suited to low hedging, including Acmena smithii ‘Hedgemaster’ and Syzygium australe ‘Tiny Trev’. You could also use box (Buxus spp.), azaleas, westringia, rosemary, ixora, or Duranta ‘Sheena’s Gold’ as a low hedge.

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