Wednesday, 20 September 2017

How to: Grow a hedge using Illawarra natives

I'm not much of a hedge grower myself, but hedges are a useful element in many gardens, and a good way of creating a natural screen. There are quite a few Illawarra natives that can be used in hedge form, though unfortunately many have not been tested. Most are rarely seen as hedges. 

It might be time for a local hedge renaissance! Here are a few species you could try:
The underused and underrated Native Holly (Alchornea
ilicifolia
) makes a pleasant low hedge in part shade.
It can be grown under eucalypts.
White Correa (Correa alba) again! Yes, it's a great
hedging plant, and happy in sun or part shade. Its
abundant white flowers are a bonus in spring.
And another of my favourites, Orange Thorn (Pittosporum
multiflorum
), which is very like English Box, with slow
growth and small leaves, suitable for formal hedging.
Photo: Kath Gadd. 
This is Heath Myrtle (Baeckia imbricata) used as a low
hedge at Wollongong Botanic Garden. It is a fairly
fast-growing species, and while it makes an attractive
hedging plant, its tendency to become leggy is evident here.
There are a few other excellent hedging plants native to the region, including the super-tough Whalebone Tree (Streblus brunonianus) and the bird-attracting Flintwood (Scolopia braunii). Both of these species have the potential to grow into small trees, but with appropriate maintenance form appealing, dense hedges or screens. Bolwarra (Eupomatia laurina) is also worth considering, though it cannot be pruned to closely and tends to be 1-2m across. 
Bolwarra used to screen a house from the nearby
laneway. This plant has had minimal pruning.
Photo: Leon Fuller. 
 Some climbers and sedges also have strong potential as border plants, though not as hedges per se. Here's one interesting example:

Molucca Bramble (Rubus moluccana var. trilobus) is perhaps
a surprising choice as an edging or hedging plant as it is
quite prickly. But here it is being used in the Australian
National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. Nobody has complained
about it to my knowledge! 
And of course, as with hedging species generally, there are a few rules of thumb to observe: 
- the faster growing plants will reach full height sooner, but require more pruning and management down the track to keep to shape. Many will become leggy unless very carefully managed. 
- Slower growing species will take longer to reach a good shape and fullness, but are easier to keep in shape once they are mature. 
- Pruning is particularly important for larger-leaved species which can become leggy more easily. 
- Prickly plants can make good protective hedges but should not be used in areas where prickles or spines risk causing harm. 
- Many but not all Illawarra natives respond well to hard pruning. Check carefully before conducting a hard pruning. 
- Loose or informal hedges are attractive and interesting alternatives to very neat formal hedges, and often more appropriate for gardens where a naturalistic or informal feel is desired. 

Happy hedging!

2 comments:

  1. There's quite a nice one on the Distributor from Callistemon somethingorotherus, just north of North Wollongon

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    1. Thanks Pete! It is a nice hedge but I don't think it's a local native species unfortunately. I can't be sure but I think it's a cultivar of Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis). Other readers may know better than me.

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