What diverse weather we have been having! Is Winter ever coming?
Although I'm not a fan of really cold weather. You will see me here, in the nursery, with a warm hat, fingerless gloves, and at least four layers of clothing, we Leo’s like our warm weather! However, we do need the cold weather to set flowers, and get those great Winter veggies flourishing.
I’d like to be suggestive. How about a hedge? Great for borders, screens or just plain privacy!
A hedge is more or less a uniform row of plants, usually planted close together. Rule of thumb is to plant three plants to a metre, bringing the plants in half a metre at each end so as to not overhang. They can be shaped or clipped to perform the function of a wall, fence, screen, wind or noise break.
Hedges can be formal, semi-formal or informal, using either evergreen or deciduous plants.
Most hedges are formal with dense growth cut into a regular shape by constantly clipping, which suppresses most of the flowers and fruits used for borders, walls or fences. The semi-formal hedges use plants that are allowed to develop some flowering and fruiting wood. This hedge is not subjected to as much meticulous clipping and is a good alternative for fences or walls. The informal hedge is allowed to grow almost naturally. They are clipped infrequently, if at all, and then only to keep tidy. This type is basically a line of shrubs to provide a screen.
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY
It is very important to give your hedge a good start in life. So, start at the grass roots level by thoroughly weeding the area. Ten days after the weeds have been removed, dig through a good amount of compost. You can use Searles Real Compost, however, there are plenty of brands around to do the job, or preferably use your own compost, liberally dug through the area to be planted. Water well for a week before planting. When plants are close together in hedge form, they are competing for food and water, so good soil preparation is essential for vigorous and healthy growth of the hedge.
A hedge with plants too far apart may take years to grow together, so spacing the plants close is necessary so as to form a dense mass of foliage and stems to ground level. Most plants used for hedges should be spaced apart one quarter of the average width of a free-standing specimen. After planting ensure the hedge is thoroughly watered. It is a good idea to mulch the soil to maintain an even soil temperature, to slow the evaporation rate and help control weed growth during Summer.
Pruning should begin during the first year. When pruning, be gentle to start until the hedge has developed a bushy side growth. The aim is to make a short bushy hedge first then allow the height and width to develop, as required. The extra effort is well worth it, it takes a little longer but you end up with a dense well-leafed hedge.
Your hedge is planted close together so a little extra attention is required with watering and feeding. A complete fertiliser should be given early in Spring and mid-Summer. If it is an Australian native hedge, ensure that the phosphorus content, in the complete fertiliser you are using, is under 3. In the words of my favourite show Star Trek – your hedge should live long prosper!
Some evergreen plants for hedges or borders
Cupheas, Nandina ‘nana’, Tibouchina Jules, Murraya ‘Min-a-Min, Gardenia radicans, Trachelospermum ‘Star Jasmine’ and Syzygium (various).
Geisha Girl, Gardenia (various), Camellia, Hibiscus, Syzygium (various), Murraya ‘Mock Orange”, Metrosideros (various), Azaleas, Viburnum and Raphiolepsis.
Magnolias, Syzygiums (various), Callistemons, Cupressus leylandii and Xanthostemon ‘Golden Penda’.
With beautiful large round flower heads borne all over the plant in late Spring and early Summer, this plant comes in shades of pink, blue, white and is now available with two-toned flowers. The humble Hydrangea can be grown just about anywhere, but is easiest in semi-shade here, through our hot Queensland summers. With a little extra care, such as composting, mulching and watering, they can be grown in sunny spots.
Before you plant, look for the right location, then look at the soil. Hydrangeas perform best in semi-shaded, nutrient-rich, well-drained soil which holds moisture. Whatever your soil type, dig in a good wheel-barrow load of compost before you plant. If you have clay soil add gypsum as well. Pruning at the end of summer when the flowers are finished, will enhance growth.
You can select the colour of your Hydrangea. They have the ability to switch colour according to the pH of the soil.
Here’s what you do:
Use a soil pH test kit to check your soil pH. Mauve and blue flowers are produced at soil pH of 4.5-5.5, plum hues at pH 5.5-6, and pinks and reds at pH6-7.
To lower the pH, add sulphur or use a product called Hydrangea blueing. To increase pH, add lime or Hydrangea pinking agent. The amount needed depends on your soil type and your pH. Always add less rather than more to start with.
To intensify colour and maintain your desired pH, add Hydrangea blueing and pinking agents to water and pour over the soil. Colour changes take time. In fact, some hydrangeas stay the same colour regardless of pH, including whites and some new varieties of blue, pink and red. It’s wise to buy a colour you like. Often the displayed colour is that variety’s most impressive colour.
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND