Les’s Patch

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I think many of us will be thinking about growing a hedge or some sort of shelter for our gardens with these winds, which seem never ending.

I think a pattern of weather seems to be emerging.

Gone are the harsh winters, the weather is nearly the same all year round, with winds, showers, and a splash of sunshine now and again.

As I write this the wind is genuinely blowing at about 50 mph.

What chance have our plants, especially as we should be planting our summer bedding plants, and hanging our baskets up?

So let’s have a look at some hedges for shelter.

If you have a small garden, you don’t want your hedge to be just an enclosing background, it’s better if it is a definite feature.

The best way to go about this is to use flowering species of hedging plants, and a good selection is from the following: Camellia Japonica; Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternate); Hebe speciosa hybrids, and Pittosorum tenuifolium - this one for its beautiful evergreen leaves.

Plants such as these, which grow slowly or flower from side growths, are very easy to maintain.

They simply need any long straggly shoots cut back in autumn or spring to make them tidy, and their dead flower heads removed.

Give them a feed of Growmore about the end of October and then in early March give them some sulphate of potash.

One plant that really does make a striking hedge is Berberis, garden centres usually stock a good selection, but always check the eventual height before buying.

The variety you want in order to make a lovely hedge is Berberis ottawensis purpurea with rich purple leaves; trim in early spring to keep it the size you require.

Another shrub that makes a beautiful hedge is Lonicera Nitida.

It is ideal grown as a shrub in the garden, but when grown as a hedge it is really striking with its small yellow leaves.

It does need regular trimming, with the first trim about this time of year, then again early August and if you think it could do with another trim early October would be the time to do it.

I have one growing as a shrub, and last September I cut it right back to about 8ins from the ground; now it has grown to about 2ft in that short time, so it is certainly one to grow.

To get the best results once the hedge is planted is to nurse it along, (remembering it is going to be with you a long time).

Keep it really well watered and give some protection against the hot sun and cold winds.

The loss of water through the leaves is unbelievable.

The best thing to do is use some green netlon around the plants held in place with canes.

The other thing which is very important is to be patient; what you don’t want is a lanky hedge with leafless bare patches at the bottom of your new hedge.

Some of the trouble is due to poor nutrition, but most is due to incorrect clipping from the time it was planted.

In order to make sure you get the thick growth at the bottom of the hedge , reduce the height considerably in the first two or three years.

This encourages it to send out side growth low down.

If the side growth is trimmed back to tidy it up, the clipped side shoots will sprout further side shoots, giving an even denser cover.

Many people are going away from growing annual bedding plants and switching to herbaceous plants, which come up every year.

The advantage of these is that they don’t need as much care as summer bedding plants, but you still have to keep an eye out for slugs and pests, and also watering.

If you want an instant border, and aren’t too fussy about which particular species or varieties you grow, good, well established container grown plants from a garden centre can be set out at any time during the season.

The plants must be carefully and regularly watered if they are planted during summer.

This will get them off to a good start and encourage them to make new growth.

If you do start to grow these beautiful plants, you must make sure that in early spring, when plants are starting into growth, you put slug pellets down soon enough, because at that time of year there isn’t much else for slugs and snails to feed off.