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|Hedges are nothing more than shrubs or low trees planted in a row to form a fence. Hedges can be natural, looking like they were grown in the wild, or they can be more formal, pruned into a certain shape, usually squared. Hedges serve a variety of purposes and come in a variety of sizes. Hedges can be worked into nearly any garden situation.|
Hedges are generally easy to care for, taking no more attention than a tree or shrub, as these plants are all it consists of. Once established, many types of hedges will require no care whatsoever, unless the gardener chooses to trim them to shape. The choice of shrub or tree greatly affects what care needs to be taken for the hedges to survive.
Hedges can grow in nearly any growing condition possible. The sheer variety of shrubs and trees that make excellent hedges is amazing. One way to make a different looking hedge, is to use different species and types of plants together. The variety used can make a very bold statement.
Hedges serve many purposes in the garden and landscape. Hedges can make a great wind block. Hedges are good privacy screens, and can be a wonderful looking alternative to a fence or other such divider.
Walter's viburnum is a shrub or small tree with small, shiny, opposite leaves only about 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) long. The plant can get up to 30 ft (9 m) tall, but is more commonly 6-15 ft (2-4 m) or less in height. It often has multiple trunks and sometimes, under ideal growing conditions, sends up suckers as it spreads itself into a thicket. Young twigs have a reddish fuzz that is quite pretty. Walter's viburnum stays evergreen in mild winters. The tiny flowers are creamy white with five petals and arranged in flat topped cymes that are 2-3 in (5-7 cm) across. Emerging in early spring along with the new shoots and leaves, they are mildly fragrant and very showy. The quarter inch (6 mm) fruits, maturing in late summer, are at first red, then ripen to black.
The Japanese ligustrum, also called Japanese privet, is a large shrub or tree that is usually seen at 6-12 ft (1.8-3.7 m) in height but is capable of reaching 20 ft (6.1 m) or more. The attractive leaves are evergreen, opposite, and somewhat pear-shaped with a sharp terminal point. They have 6 to 8 pairs of veins that may be somewhat sunken on the back. In spring, white flowers are borne on large terminal clusters (panicles) 5-8 in (12-20 cm) long. The flowers produce a perfume that is not particularly pleasant as well as quantities of pollen that many people find bothersome. The blossoms are followed by green berries that ripen to dull black in winter and tend to persist on the plant for most of the year. The older and larger the tree, the more open its form becomes and looks attractive limbed up to create a bonsai-esque effect.
The boxwoods are profusely branched evergreen shrubs widely used in landscaping, especially for hedges and foundation plantings. There are some 70 species of boxwoods, but only two are commonly found in cultivation: this one and common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens). But those two species have given us hundreds of botanical varieties, horticultural cultivars and hybrids of garden origin to choose from. All the boxwoods have small, opposite, evergreen leaves. They produce small star shaped yellowish green pistillate (female) and staminate (male) flowers on the same plants. The flowers are not showy, but are quite fragrant. The star points are actually sepals - boxwood flowers have no petals. The flowers are in clusters consisting of a single female flower in the center, surrounded by several male flowers, recognized by their conspicuous yellow anthers. Littleleaf boxwood has very small leaves, just 3/4 in (1.9 cm) long, and considerably thinner in texture (almost transparent) than those of other boxwoods. They are elliptic-oblong, and dark green, usually turning a rather ugly bronze in winter. Littleleaf boxwood grows in a dense rounded mound, 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) tall and 3-5 ft (0.9-1.5 m) across.
The azalea per se is hard to describe, as it may be a tiny 8" spreading groundcover, or a 20' shrub. There are, in fact, more than 3000 different species, hybrids and cultivars of Rhododendron grown in the U.S. alone. In any case, the azaleas are woody stemmed shrubs, prized for their characteristic, usually prolific, often fragrant, trumpet shaped flowers. These may be only 1/2", or more than 4" across. They come usually in shades of pink, white, purple, orange and red, and may be freckled, variegated, single or double. Many azalea varieties cultivated for landscape use are evergreen, but there are plenty of deciduous ones too. Azaleas are rhododendrons, but all rhododendrons are not azaleas. The common names are often interchanged, but some would restrict "azalea" to those species whose flowers have 5 stamens and use "rhododendron" for the species with 10 or more stamens. Most gardeners use "azalea" for those plants with deciduous leaves and funnel shaped flowers, and "rhododendron" for those with evergreen foliage and larger, bell shaped flowers. Needless to say, the distinctions are not always reliable.
Popular azalea cultivars include the Exbury hybrids (deciduous, spring blooming, showy fall foliage); the Gable hybrids (evergreen, cold tolerant); the Kurume hybrids (evergreen, compact, small flowers); the Indica hybrids (large funnel shaped, unscented flowers, most popular in the SE U.S.); and the Dexter hybrids (evergreen, dense foliage and large flowers). R. kaempferi (torch azalea) is deciduous to semi-evergreen, with pink to red funnel shaped flowers. Like we said, there are thousands of azaleas!
Japanese Hollies are best used in mass groups as low shrubs, low hedges, or tall groundcovers. The compact habit of growth, slow growth rate, and small leaves make these ideal plants for use as clipped, formal hedges. Adjacent plants will often grow together looking like a row or group of green mounds. Eventually, the crowns grow completely together forming a sea of green. This plant is considered mostly allergy free and causes little or no allergy problems in most people.
Another common name for this plant is Japanese mockorange because the scent put forth by its blossoms is similar to that of the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). The small flowers are about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) in diameter and are held in clusters at the branch tips. They are pure white when they emerge from the bud and slowly age to a mellow creamy yellow. They appear in late spring and last for several weeks. Flowers are more noticeable and attractive on the nonvariegated plants thanks to the handsome background of dark green foliage.
Picture gorgeous, dark to bright green, opposite leaves on a shrub that can grow 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m) high with almost equal spread. The leaves are glossy and leathery. Mature shrubs usually look round, and have a medium texture. This is not a "bloom all at once and it's over" shrub! It blooms in mid-spring to early summer over a fairly long season. The flowers are white, turning to creamy yellow as they age, and have a waxy feel. They have a powerful, sweet fragrance, and can perfume an entire room. Air currents waft the scent throughout the warm summer garden to the delight of all.
Cultivars are available that are distinctly different from the plant as described, particularly a prostrate version with very dark green leaves that makes an excellent ground cover in a protected, partly shady area. Cultivar 'Prostrata' grows only 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) in height, with a much greater spread, and produces smaller, but equally fragrant white flowers. As a specimen shrub, freestanding where its shape and beauty can be appreciated (and good air circulation can help keep pests down). Place near patio or in outdoor living area where its fragrance can be enjoyed.
Its fragrant flowers and glossy evergreen foliage have made gardenia a beloved regular in southern gardens since colonial days. Along with the magnolia, gardenia is a traditional symbol of the American Deep South. This plant is often seen labeled as Gardenia jasminoides which is now a synonym and no longer valid
Do you know the story of the fabulous hardy Hibiscus Hybrids? They’re part of a confusing group of plants called Hibiscus, rose mallow, althea, rose of sharon, giant mallow, swamp mallow and other things, but forget all that, these are mid-size hibiscus shrubs created from some of our most beautiful North American wildflowers.
Here’s the main confusion. The genus Hibiscus has both tropical and non-tropical species. We’re taking here about the non-tropicals. These are not the famous florist plants that have similar, but smaller flowers. That’s Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the “China rose”. With thousands of hybrids, it’s the state flower of Hawaii, and the national flower of Malasia. The tropical hibiscus is wonderful, and it you live in Florida or Hawaii, you can enjoy them in your frost-free yard. Otherwise, they’re houseplants, and not very easy to grow.
Although there are some 400 species in the genus Ixora, only a handful are commonly cultivated, and the common name, ixora, is usually used for I. coccinea. Ixora is a dense, multi-branched evergreen shrub, commonly 4-6 ft (1.2-2 m) in height, but capable of reaching up to 12 ft (3.6 m) high. Ixora has a rounded form, with a spread that may exceed its height. The glossy, leathery, oblong leaves are about 4 in (10 cm) long, with entire margins, and are carried in opposite pairs or whorled on the stems. Small tubular, scarlet flowers in dense rounded clusters 2-5 in (5-13 cm) across are produced almost all year long. There are numerous named cultivars differing in flower color (yellow, pink, orange) and plant size. Several popular cultivars are dwarfs, usually staying under 3 ft (1 m) in height. Ixora 'Nora Grant' is a popular dwarf and 'Super King' is a popular hybrid with much larger flower clusters than the species.
Ixora is used in warm climates for hedges and screens, foundation plantings, massed in flowering beds, or grown as a specimen shrub or small tree. In cooler climes, ixora is grown in a greenhouse or as a potted house plant requiring bright light. Ixora is also grown in containers, looking very distinguished as a patio or poolside plant. This tight, compact shrub is much branched and tolerates hard pruning, making it ideal for formal hedges, although we think it is at its best when not sheared.
The Camellia produces flowers up to 5 in (12.7 cm) wide with yellow centers and rounded overlapping petals, much like a rose. The flowers are prized, but so are the glossy leaves that stay a deep, shiny green all year. It is a slow grower, but eventually will reach up to 20 ft (6.1 m) tall. Camellias flower from late winter to early spring. Over 3,000 varieties, cultivars and hybrids of Camellia japonica are cultivated. A lovely one is 'Adolphe Audusson', whose deep red flowers are more numerous and appear earlier than other types. White 'Alba Simplex' is another favorite choice, and 'Contessa Lavinea' is pale pink with dark pink splashes and dark green leaves.
In the wild, garden croton is an evergreen shrub that grows to 10 ft (3.1 m) tall and has large, leathery, shiny leaves. The cultivated garden crotons are usually smaller and come in an amazing diversity of leaf shapes and colors. What they do have in common are rather thick evergreen alternate leaves, tiny inconspicuous star-shaped yellow flowers that hang down in long racemes, and a milky sap that bleeds from cut stems. Depending on the cultivar, the leaves may be ovate to linear, entire to deeply lobed, and variegated with green, white, purple, orange, yellow, red or pink. The colors may follow the veins, the margins or they may be in blotches on the leaf.
The American Aloe, Maguey, Century plant has no stem. Its thick and massive gray-green leaves originate from a basal rosette. The leaves get up to 6' long and 10" wide, and have sharp spines on the margins and tips. The margin spines are recurved like fishhooks and the tip spines can be more than an inch long. The flower stalk is branched, 20-40' tall, and bears large (3-4") yellow-green flowers. Popular cultivars are 'Marginata' with yellow margins on the leaves, 'Mediopicta' with a broad yellow band down the center of each leaf, and 'Striata' with stripes.
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