Planting Hedge Borders in Your Garden

In a town garden or a shady site box could be pressed into service, but enough, I malign a plant which has done yeoman service. Regular feeding and clipping are essential or the bushes become bare and leggy.

Of the cotoneaster, a genus which includes so many beautiful shrubs, only one has proved of outstanding value for hedging purposes. Cotoneaster simonsii is really neither evergreen nor deciduous so it was difficult to decide which .section it should come under. Strange that a shrub so fiercely upright in habit should reflect an air of informality. In autumn every twig of its 6-ft. frame is festooned with orange-scarlet berries, a spectacle enhanced by some of the leaves remaining green while others take on the full panoply of autumn’ scarlet.

The shrubs chosen for hedging must be beautiful in their own right, either in leaf, berry, or flower, hardy enough to stand the rigours of soil or climate, and thick enough to give shelter without constant attention. The list of shrubs which approach this standard of excellence is surprisingly long.

The best I have tried so far is Green Hedger, a closely branched erect bush with deep green foliage. After 7 years this variety has reached 6 ft. in height in my own garden without spreading far enough to need clipping. Spacing should be 3 ft. apart, unless money is no object when they could go in at 2 ft. apart making a solid barrier quicker but serving no other useful purpose. Both C. I. fletcheri and C. I. fraseri have quietly attractive grey-green leaves growing to about 12 ft. high in the fullness of time. A mixture of the green forms with the yellow-foliaged stewartii or smith ii makes a picturesque screen on a sheltered site.

Whatever the hedge chosen cultivations before planting are the same. The site must be deeply worked with a plentiful dressing of organic matter and should then be allowed to stand over winter. In late February, as the soil dries out, work in a dressing of a complete fertiliser at 2 oz. per sq. yd., then allow a further fortnight for the soil to settle and begin planting. If the land tends to hang a little wet, raise the centre somewhat above the surrounding area. However, if there is a positive waterlogging a proper drainage system is the only solution.

Plant at 21 to 3 ft. apart. If cuttings are required, in my experience these should be taken in February and rooted in a propagating frame. Stake the plants as previously described with a single rail fence 36 in. high.

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