Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hedgerows vs Hedges

Remember that "do no harm" part of my nursery?  well i've developed a bit of a prejudice regarding the ubiquitous Privet.  I have a basic prejudice against any plant that is overused, I love plants so much I really like to see all of us get "out of the box" and play with them.   Also always keep in mind that "monocultures" are susceptible to elimination if a disease affects them.

I love Hedgerows.  Hedgerows are the lovely wild shrubs, trees, wildflowers that farmers leave between fields. Hedgerows define the English landscape.  They serve the same purpose as hedges, break the wind, provide protection, establish a boundary - but because they are mixed species they also provide food, shelter for birds, flowering times for human interest - diversity.

These are  pictures of one of my favorite Hedgerows.  This is a country garden in a very difficult place - opposite the entry to the harbor - the winter storm winds are fierce.

The Hedgerow consisits of Scots Pine, Hydrangea limelight, purple leafed Cherry, native Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Inkberry, Eastern Ninebark, Switch grass.  It celebrates diversity with color, texture and season long interest.

Back to that Privet - we use a lot of Privet on Nantucket, it's hardy, it provides a lot of employment to keep it pruned crisp, doesn't need much fertilizer or water to survive, but is is invasive, highly invasive.  I pull around 300 privet seedlings on my property a year from a neighbors hedge that they choose not to keep trimmed, so it sets a large amount of seed.  A
 former clients property was so filled with  Privet seed that we could not open the soil for any reason - planting, laying hardscape, stubbing your toe - and up would sprout Privet seedlings within a year. Their property was surrounded, for years, with unpruned Privet.  Pruned Privet will also set seed, just not as much.

All that is ok for Town gardens - most Town gardens are manicured within an inch of their lives, mowed,  mulched, pruned, not much chance for a seedling to survive and stage a takeover.
In Country gardens it is a different story.

And for that story you will need to look for my information on invasive plants on Nantucket.

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