Almost every garden I know has some form of hedging in it. Whether for privacy at a boundary of a site, planted as a shelter-bed for windy sites or as formal surround and edging within a scheme, hedging plays so many different roles in our gardens. The plants featured this week are not necessarily in Bloom but nevertheless at their best this week.
Some spectacular hedging can be found at Birr Castle in County Offaly. From the magnificent Hornbeam Cloister walk to the oldest Box hedging in the world, these gardens are a true showcase to the versatility of hedges.
Box hedging, or Buxus Sempervirens, is used in the formal gardens to create an elegant geometric surround for the many Violet shrubs. Box is a subtle hedging plant with shiny bright green softly lanceolated leaves and makes a fabulous hedge for a partially shaded border. The dense green forms of the hedge when cut into shape are an ideal backdrop and surround for the colourful border giving both structure and a deep green grounding to the scheme.
What I love about Box is that it works just as well in formal schemes with one feature plant such as lavender planted in it as it does as a surround for more informal cottage style schemes. Like a painting with a frame, most loose naturalistic planting combinations can benefit from a strong frame of box hedging, the ideal green offset to the soft coloured movement of perennials.
If you have a planting bed in the garden that needs a bit of structure then maybe consider planting a small frame of box hedging around it. This will give any bed a real lift and it is fairly easy to plant up yourself.
You will most likely source the plants in a tray of 6 from your local garden centre and you should plant these 30 cm apart in fertile, well-drained soil. Box can handle most conditions but if you have sandy soil you would be better of planting them in a shady spot as direct sunlight combined with sandy soil can result in poor growth and leaf scorching. Basically the soil should never dry out and especially when establishing they should be kept well watered and fertilized after pruning, which should be done in mid to late summer.
A top tip from a designers point of view is to use the box plant to create a sculpted feature within a scheme. In many designers Showgardens, such as this years Bloom in the Park garden by Niall Maxwell (pictured above) or Jane Mc Corkell’s colourful space (below) spheres and squares can become a strong design feature that create an almost sculpture like feel in the scheme, perfect to show off the inspiring perennial schemes.
A very special Thank You to Lord Rosse, Michael Ross and everyone at Birr Castle Demesne
Additional Images by Leonie Cornelius at Bloom in the Park Showgardens by Niall Maxwell and Jane McCorkell