Short back and sides?

Olearia traversii hedge uncut

Olearia traversii hedge before cutting

We’ve added a new task to our list of winter maintenance jobs: cutting the hedge. After the struggle to find an evergreen shrub which would tolerate our sandy soil and windy climate we have finally succeeded in growing a wind break. Unfortunately we have become victims of our own success and have reached the stage where the great hedge has to be trimmed. In fact we probably should have started last year but somehow managed to convince ourselves that when it reached 3m it would stop growing.
So in autumn we had to accept that we had a problem and the Head Gardener began the search for the biggest hedge cutter he could lift.
In other parts of the kingdom the sensible solution would be to find a neighbour with a tractor and flail trimmer – however, because there are no hedges to cut here, there is not a flail cutter to be found on the island. Eventually a suitable machine was located from a supplier, who was prepared to arrange carriage to islands on the edge of darkness, and enough cash was found from the piggy bank, coat pockets, old handbags and other unlikely places to make the purchase and include a new chain for the chainsaw too!

Hedge-cutting

I don’t think I can reach

On a suitably calm day, with the Head Gardener’s face lit by a grin that would not disgrace the Cheshire cat, the cutting of the great hedge began. Reality dawned rapidly – the hedge was too tall and too wide.
The word topiary or the term sculpted pruning or cloud cutting are guaranteed to give the Head Gardener apoplexy accompanied by expressions of derision. So he was not happy when he realised that his vision of a neatly trimmed hedge with parallel sides and a flat top was transformed into something that resembled a storm cloud with a Mohican crest.
Trimmed-hedge

As a very experienced apprentice I knew that when the muttering began that it was wise to quietly take myself off to the other end of the garden and start picking up the hedge cuttings. I think the Cheshire came with me.
Once again the olearia hedge has produced a garden dilemma. Do we get out the loppers and reduce the height; do something more brutal and reduced the width or wait for the Head Gardener’s new plan? I suspect the severe gales and storm force winds forecast for next week may concentrate the mind.

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21 thoughts on “Short back and sides?

    • I think the hedge managed without too much help from us, we just need to curb its enthusiasm. Our main concern is that we will loose foliage from the base as it gets taller and so become top heavy and prone to wind damage.

  1. Aren’ t parallel sides and neat flat tops so typical of a man? It looks so nice billowing like that. It reminds me of the wonderful hedges at Powis Castle. You want to roll down them. What a wonderful protection from the cold winds too.

    • Head Gardener’s do like straight lines, which is why I’m still an apprentice. I like the “cloud” effect, it fits the landscape and is probably more resistant to the wind. However, I must get rid of the “Mohican” tufts.

  2. There may be apoplexy and derision on the part of the Head Gardener but I have to confess that I rather like the storm cloud with Mohican crest look. Do you think he could learn to live with it? And do tell me – is that a large TUSK in the first (and second) picture?

    • Well Head Gardeners are Head Gardeners and after 35 years I know when to smile quietly and that he will come round in the end. The large “tusk” is driftwood ad it took a tractor and four of us to shift it. It is probably Eucalyptus and is a splendid addition to my collection of flotsam and jetsam which litters the cottage drive.

  3. The hedge trimmers are a real beast! fantastic! I think that the hedge will speak to you and tell you how it wants to be – metaphorically, and not literally, of course !! 🙂

    • The croft gardeners have a reputation for not doing things by halves, so the Head Gardener has a fairly awesome collection of tools.
      I’m sure that the hedge will do what it wants to do and defy our best intentions. Gardening in this part of the world depends on allowing plants to get on with it and the weather is the overall design arbiter. I just tidy-up and try not to interfere too much.
      As for talking plants, well these island’s are on the edge of the world and it might be the wind, or the wee folk or just the hedge whispering to me when I walk past.

  4. I created a similar monster here. Wanting to block unpleasant views, I planted 135 cypress on the perimeter of my property. At the time there was only one variety available, and I wanted complete privacy during my lifetime. Within a short decade, these trees accomplished privacy, yet now overgrow and require annual shearing/topping to keep tidy. This requires hired help with a bucket truck, sheers, and a helper. I got what I asked for, yet the cost of maintenance is daunting. Thoughts of retirement are snuffed, as I must feed the cypress till. OMG!

    Happiest of Holidays to you. I am soon off to the kitchen to prepare something decadent for gifting. Diane

    • Yet another victim of the monster hedge!
      I like the sound of decadent gifting. I’m making Christmas spice biscuits today as the weather is too foul to go out.
      Enjoy your holiday.

  5. I remember how small that hedge was when we there a couple of years ago! That is one thing that really does want to grow up there. I like the clouds myself but Ian would be exactly like your HG in wishing for straight lines. Now you are wiser than I in taking the silent approach. I shall try to watch and learn…

    • The hedge is looking rather battered at present, so I think there will be some serious pruning required when the weather eventually settles down. I am sure that you are as skillful as most of when it comes to knowing when to keep quiet and when to stamp the dainty foot and insist.

  6. Pingback: Life sentence with hard labour? | Croft Garden

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