Garden Lore

Then in we went, to the garden glorious
Like to a place, of pleasure most salacious
With flora paynted and wrought curiously
In diverse knottes of marveylous greatnes.

Anonymous (reprinted in “Up the Garden Path” by Laura Stoddart.

Clipped rather than pleached but certainly on stilts

Clipped rather than pleached but certainly on stilts

Pleaching

It is quite recent that pleaching has become synonymous with a hedge or row of trees on stilts. Technically, pleaching is the interweaving of adjacent plants on a relatively two dimensional plane. There is a school of thought that it dates back to animal proofing hedges by making them more dense but the sophisticated version came into European gardens as much as 400 years ago – the elegant, grand allees of trained, matched trees which give architectural structure.

Think of it as a dense espalier where the horizontal branches are trained and interwoven. However it is more likely these days that what is called a pleached avenue is simply limbed up trees which have been allowed to merge together on the upper storey and are then shaped as one – in other words a hedge with bare legs. I am pretty sure that is what is being done in this street scene I photographed in the little French town of Vernon. It appears that a hedge trimmer may be used to shape the canopies to something resembling cubes and over time, when the trees join together, it will create a flat plane. These are tilias or lime trees.

If you want a pleached avenue, the advice I have seen is never to go less than 2.5m spacings. You can’t magic these creations up quickly. The trees take time to grow and the effect relies on generous spacings which allow each plant trunk to shine in its own right. Otherwise, you are just planting a hedge.

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

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2 thoughts on “Garden Lore: Friday 29 August, 2014

  1. Tai Blackburn

    Hello,Here’s an example of “pleaching”? we loved in Dresden…. there were benches placed underneath it on the riverside. It gave everyone shelter from Southern Germanys’ scorching midday heat. I’m unsure of the tree variety used.RegardsTaina Robson

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Hi Taina, link didn’t come through – just your email address (which I deleted). Love to see your photo. Pleaching can be both elegant and practical.

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