Hedges can serve all sorts of purposes within the garden. They make excellent screens and barriers, especially where walls and fences are not practical. They also provide a useful habitat for birds and other wildlife, as well as a natural backdrop for the other plants in the garden.
Privacy and shelter are important factors in any garden. A plot that is wholly exposed to the elements makes the work of the gardener much harder, and many cherished plants will be lost in bad weather. Equally a garden that has no feeling of enclosure is not particularly relaxing. It is the
wonderful sense of privacy that creates the greatest feeling of calm in the garden. It is well worth visiting some of the great gardens simply to observe the many different ways in which they have been enclosed or screened from neighbors, and parts of the garden from other areas.
Choosing a hedge plant
Yew hedges (Taxus) are a traditional, much-loved form of enclosure in gardens, but they take some time to develop to a useful height. They are not, however, quite as slow-growing as is often thought, growing about 7 in. ;\ year! A primary reason for planting yew is that it needs less frequent pruning than fast-growing privet, tor example, which will need pruning three times as often. In less formal gardens, tapestry hedges of mixed plants make (air rapid and attractive screens, and they have the bonus ol being a popular haven for local wildlife.
Among the alternatives for screening a garden is the use of man-made structures over which climbing plants arc grown. Stout trellis is often used for this purpose; on average, it will last for around eight years. Other possibilities include screens made of bamboo or willow. Living willow screens have become increasingly popular with gardeners in recent
years and arc often woven into attractive patterns.