Clip clip clipetty clip. The hedges have been done

Lloyd clipped the Camellia transnokoensis hedges to the left; Zach clipped the feature camellias to the right this year.

We don’t have a lot of clipped hedging here, I am prone to declaring. I may have to amend that. I paced them out and came to a rough estimate of somewhere over 150 metres which seems rather more than I thought. It is probably more accurate to say that we don’t have a lot of garden where the design is defined by clipped hedging. Just the Wave Garden, in fact.

Clipped Camellia minutiflora in the Wave Garden

I have been thinking about hedge trimming because it has taken up almost all of Lloyd’s work hours this week. At the same time, I saw a comment by an English gardener about currently trimming his clients’ hedges and that seemed odd to me because it is autumn there. I am guessing they trim in autumn so that they retain their sharp lines over winter. In colder climates, sharply defined shapes are often what gives winter interest in places where plants don’t flower all year round. Maybe they trim twice a year?

On the left is clipped Camellia Fairy Blush with a low buxus hedge in front. At the back is clipped totara (Podocarpus totara). You too can keep this forest giant to this size over 110 years if you keep it clipped hard!

We cut in spring for two reasons. One is that we want to look sharp for the spring garden festival starting this Friday. The other is that the majority of our clipped hedges are small-leafed camellias. Trimming those in autumn would take all the flower buds off so we trim in spring before the next season’s buds are set.

Hedges of Camellia Fairy Blush provide a demarcation line between the sunken Court Garden and the gardens either side of it.

We only trim once a year and we accept that come next autumn and winter, the hedges will be looking a bit woolly. I seem to remember that if you have hedges of teucrium or lonicera, you need to trim every four to six weeks in the growing season – and we have a growing season that lasts nine months of the year. That does not sound fun to me although maybe some people don’t mind forever trimming their garden hedges.

I can’t help but think that people who are obsessive about sharp hedges all year round might be better to make permanent walls instead – more expensive to erect but a lot lighter in maintenance down the years.

This wave hedge at La Plume was sensational.

The wave hedges we saw at Le Jardin Plume in France still rule supreme for me. I have never seen hedges like them. Alas, I may not see them again in this new world we are in.

Chupa chups to the right, umbrellas to the left

While Lloyd has been trimming hedges, Zach has been clipping feature plants. He pointed out to me that the taller michelias at our entranceway (Fairy Magnolia Blush) are more like chupa chups than lollipops, which is right because they are fully round, not like the two dimensional round lollipop. The small ones to the left we trim to an umbrella shape – so flatter on top than the rounded chupa chups.

No longer a path that terminated in an unattractive building, even if it currently terminates at the raspberry coop

Visitors who have seen our new summer gardens may recall the path that led to nowhere as we airily waved and said that we planned to move the two buildings in the way. Well, it is done. The large propagation house and Mark’s personal botanical treasure house have indeed been moved and we have opened up a new area. True, the path still doesn’t go straight through yet. It now terminates at the raspberry cage. I have served notice that can not be taken down until somebody has built me a new raspberry cage. I love the raspberry harvest more than I love the thought of a long, long vista there.

Zach gave the Podocarpus parlatorei pillars their annual trim and has started training the top over to form the arch Mark envisaged.

This year’s Taranaki Garden Festival was shaping up to be the busiest ever in over 30 years of its life span. Alas, now it is on track to be the quietest ever. The NZ Rhododendron Association were to have their annual conference at the same time and we were expecting four coach loads of rhododendron lovers on the very first morning of festival. It was cancelled this week. Northerners can’t get here, southerners no longer want to come and who can blame them? I am expecting pretty much all our tour bookings to be cancelled in the next few days.

But we will be here, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and all prepared next Friday. It will be down to locals to fly the flag for our gardens and the associated arts trail. It is disappointing but so much of life in this era of pandemic is disappointing. At least with gardens, they will still be here next year.

12 thoughts on “Clip clip clipetty clip. The hedges have been done

  1. Robin Dowie

    Lovely to see your garden pictures now we aren’t able to come down. We’re sorry to miss your talk.At least all the rain we’ve had in Auckland this winter means we are getting a lot of pleasure from the amazing growth and flowers in our own garden. Have a good festival.

  2. Nancy Strybosch

    Thanks for your long and hard work getting ready for the garden festival again, and the pix and news of what you have all been doing.
    I was really, really looking forward to coming back to your garden to see the results of your labours, but it looks unlikely.
    Hamilton could miraculously come out of lockdown in time for the last weekend, but I doubt it.
    Just in case I will keep our hotel booking until the last minute.
    As you say ..the garden will still be there when this upheaval is all over.
    Kind regards

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      If it opens, please drive through Te Awamutu with all the car windows closed and without stopping! That cluster feels a bit like it could spread down to us. Getting too close for comfort. Stay safe!

  3. Alison

    We are coming up from Wellington and very much looking forward to visiting your garden. If it’s very quiet we’ll pretend you got it ready just for us. 😉.

  4. Paddy Tobin

    Such a pity that people will be unable to come and enjoy the garden! And the hedges look wonderful; Lloyd has a good eye!

    Yesterday’s case numbers here in Ireland were 2,429! And yet, many restrictions to socialising have been lifted- nightclubs, pubs, music venues all opened last night!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      While we freak out at 80 to 100 cases a day! We are now more vaxxed than the UK and just 1% behind Ireland. The target is 90%of those eligible before restrictions are lifted and even then it will only be a partial lifting until we get 90% across the board, including Maori and Pacifica. It is all about the vaccination push here now. Somehow the festival just seems minor in this situation. Disappointing, but that is the nature of the situation.

  5. Glenis Day

    I would 💘 love to visit your gardens and hopefully will be in New Plymouth 2nd week of Jan. for the Taranaki Orchid Summer Show – are your gardens open to the public then?

  6. Tim Dutton

    150m of hedge sounded an awful lot to clip, but I just paced out some of ours and I think we must have around the same, although they are currently mostly a lot smaller than yours. We do actually have a Teucrium fruticans hedge too and it does need frequent clipping, but as it is in the form of a varying height and width cloud snaking along the foot of a bank it doesn’t take very long to do and does not require precision. I rather enjoy free-form hedge clipping like that and don’t begrudge the extra time required for multiple clips per year. All the others I do twice a year.
    We are very much looking forward to visiting you again and seeing the new Wild North Garden and if all goes well will be calling in to see your garden again on Tuesday. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain much for you this year and that your car parking area copes a bit better than last year. All the best for the 10 days of the festival.

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