Garden Lore

“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.”

Thomas Fuller Gnomologia (1732)

Tightly clipped azalea hedge

Tightly clipped azalea hedge

Azalea hedges
I finally came across a gardening idea I have read about, even suggested, but had yet to see in person – a tightly clipped azalea hedge. This is in the garden at Wairere Nursery in Gordonton and it is delightful. It is Azalea ‘Kirin’ and the flowers were just opening a few weeks ago. It will be a swathe of colour as the season progresses.

If the pretty candy pink flowers are not to your taste, ‘Kirin’ one of the Kurume azalea group – small leafed, small flowered azaleas from the Kurume area of Japan. There is a range of colours in the Kurumes – well, azalea colours so we are talking white, pinks, salmons, lilacs through to deepest pink almost red. The Kurumes tend to have much smaller leaves than the Gumpo hybrids which is why they clip better as a hedge. When not flowering, it will look similar to a clipped buxus hedge – from a distance at least.

The beauty of azaleas for hedging is that they only need clipping once, maybe twice, a year and sprout again from bare wood so can take a hard hack if needed. The more you clip, the denser the hedge will be but you need to time it right so that you are not cutting off the flower buds. The flowers are nature-friendly, unlike buxus which contributes next to nothing to insect and birdlife, and they will light up a dark winter’s day, even more so if you go for colour rather than restrained white. The problem will be finding enough plants of one variety if you plan a longer hedge – you may have to be patient but the wait will be worthwhile to get such a pretty and practical effect.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.