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Planning Hedges

January 30th, 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot about hedges during this winter season. As I walk around the sleeping garden, I’m trying to decide where hedges will help with snow drifting, wind, and provide much needed structure and interest. I’m also in need of hedges to close up spaces and break my very large garden into smaller, more intimate areas. I’ve always been enamored with hedges, I notice and photograph them everywhere I go. One place I particularly loved the hedges was in Sweden.

At the moment, I’ve selected a few different hedges to instal this summer. One is going to be a particularly large undertaking, around 400 beech plants around two side of the main garden in the back. This spring will be spent preparing the ground for them and hopefully I will be able to order them and get them planted in early summer. Here’s hoping we don’t have another drought this coming summer!

Do you have any hedges in your garden? What’s your favorite hedge plant?

Friday Favorite: Boxwood

May 3rd, 2013

If you remember, two year ago I finally realized my garden dream of planting a boxwood hedge. Fast forward 8 months and we started looking to move to Maine. Lucky for us, the new owners of our house in Ohio told me I could take whatever plants I wanted. I spent an hour digging up all the boxwood and loaded them on our moving truck.
moving boxwoods 3
They were nestled snuggly in our main garden in early December and crossed my fingers hoping them survive.
signs of life in the garden 1
They all survived the winter beautifully, though they did get a little wind burn (this means I need to plant wind breaks to protect that garden space). Now that it’s time to plant the main garden, I need to figure out where these beauties will wend up. Most likely, they’ll be put in a nursery area and be moved to their final resting place this fall or next spring.
signs of life in the garden 2
Even though boxwood doesn’t bloom and isn’t show, there’s a definite classic beauty about it. There’s something so traditional and grounding in a long row of these beautiful shrubs.

What’s your favorite shrub?

Moving a Hedge

December 6th, 2012

If you were reading the blog last year, you might remember that I finally realized a garden dream when I added a 60 ft boxwood hedge to my garden. I must admit, I was a bit sad to leave my hedge behind, but figured I’d simply start anew next spring.

Much to my delight, the new owners of our home in Ohio aren’t gardeners and told us to take whichever plants we wanted. So the hedge came with me. It’s a bit late to be moving these beauties, but I figured I had nothing to lose but a few hours of time.

I dug each shrub carefully with a large root ball and planted them in the big upper edible garden. They’ll be mulched heavily with some leaves and I’ll pile lots of pine boughs around them for added protection this winter. Each of these shrubs would have cost me about $70 to replace so I figured it was worth a an hour or two of my time to try to save them.

If these beauties survive the winter, they’ll most likely become a hedge around the small potager behind the house. It will be nice to have a few of my favorite plants from Ohio here in Maine!

What’s your favorite hedge plant?

A Native Hawthorn Hedge

January 11th, 2012

“The beautiful Hawthorn, that has now put on
Its summer luxury of snowy wreaths,
Bending its branches in exuberant bloom,
While to the light enamour’d gale it breathes,
Rife as its loveliness, its rare perfume.
Glory of England’s landscape! Favourite tree
Of bard or lover! It flings far and free
Its grateful incense.”

William Howitt (from The Forest Minstrel)

(note – this is not a hawthorne hedge, but I didn’t have a photo)

I’ve mentioned my love of fences before. This past spring I was trying to figure out how to protect my garden from the deer that love my peas, beets, and other delicious homegrown organic vegetables. I would love to have a beautiful cedar fence surrounding the new garden, but I’d have to make it 8-10 ft tall to keep out the deer. Our homeowner’s association doesn’t allow fences over 3 ft tall and they have all kinds of other rules about them. Not to mention fences can be expensive!

After spending a lot of time last winter reading on permaculture, I decided a hedge would be a better option (my favorite book about it is: Gaia’s Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture). Permaculture focuses on using natural, native and beneficial ways to deal with the problems you have. For fencing, hedges are the best option since they can provide habitat for wildlife, food for birds, they help mitigate pollution and are much cheaper than fencing. Not to mention, there are hedging options that can provide you with food too!

After much deliberation, I settled on hawthorne as my hedge plant of choice. Why did I choose this particular plant over other options? The main reason was because it’s native to our area, and whenever possible I like to choose a native because I know they will thrive. Second, it provides lots of habitat and food for the wild birds, which is another one of the things I try to focus on when I choose plants. Thirdly, it’s an edible and medicinal shrub for humans. Here’s a great article at Way of the Wild Heart about the Hawthorne where you’ll find a lot of information about the uses of the hawthorne.

Last summer I planted about 200 hawthorne plants 2 feet apart around part of the new lower garden (my goal is to plant a few hundred more still). This coming spring, I’ll prune them low to the ground so they grow up nice and thick to provide a good fence alternative. I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of these plants this past fall. They’re only 2-3 foot tall now and they turned a beautiful shade of orange/red.  A few of them still have a few leaves clinging to their branches. They will be stunning in fall when they’re 8 feet tall in 5 years or so.

Do you have any hedges in your garden? Have you ever considered installing one?

A Dream Come True

May 26th, 2011

I’ve always loved boxwood hedges and have always dreamed of having one in my garden someday. I never knew quite where I would put it and the cost has always kept me from doing it, until now.

Yesterday afternoon the UPS man delivered seven ‘Wintergreen’ boxwoods and my dream of having a boxwood hedge will be a reality. I have two places I’m considering putting it. If I put it around my my Montmorency cherry I’ll have enough plants. I’m also considering placing in front that area that had the cover crop on it. This will become a large asparagus bed and I think a low box hedge would look really great with the asparagus ferns behind it.

‘Wintergreen’ boxwood (also known as Korean boxwood) is supposed to keep it’s green color better throughout the winter, which is a bonus here with our cold winters. It’s a more compact form for boxwood and can grow 3-4 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. It’s a slow growing plant, only growing 4-8 inches per year.

I can’t wait to get these planted. It will take years for them to mature into a nice hedge, but at least I’m finally getting my dream of a boxwood hedge in the garden.

What’s a garden dream you’ve always had?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.