SCENTED HEDGES
Good Organic Gardening|September - October 2021
CONTINUING OUR LOOK AT LIVING FENCES, HERE ARE SOME OF THE BEST AROMATIC HERBAL PLANTS FOR WINDBREAKS AND BIRD AND POLLINATOR HABITATS
Claire Bickle

It may be part of permaculture ethos to have plants in your garden that have more than one purpose but, really, it’s just common sense and good, sustainable garden design to have such a planting palette.

It’s good not only for a productive backyard but also a garden that’s practical, creates habitat and more. So why shouldn’t a hedge have more than one purpose?

Most of us who plant a hedge want it to act as screening from unwanted views or to create privacy. Hedges can also have a design perspective, defining garden spaces to create separate rooms and guide visitors through them. They can also be used as living fences on the boundaries of your property.

Hedges, formal and informal, can be used as windbreaks. They can also be a feature planting or even topiarised for a really outstanding creative display.

An added bonus is that dense hedges make great habitat for nesting birds. If your plant of choice flowers and fruits, it can also provide a food source for birds, wildlife, pollinating insects and even people.

When it comes to multi-purpose plants for hedging, perennial herbs, bush-tucker species and fruiting shrubs (featured in last issue) are all good choices.

TOP SCENTED HERBAL HEDGE PLANTS

Bay, Laurus nobilis

The bay laurel, as it’s often called, was used by the Greeks and Romans to symbolise courage and glory. The mature dark-green and highly aromatic leaves can be harvested all year round and are used whole, fresh or dried, in many savoury dishes.

The noble plant tolerates a range of soil types but does require good drainage. Once established, it’s drought-hardy as well as cold and salt tolerant.

L. nobilis will need pruning to keep it low in height for a standard-sized hedge but, if you want a high hedge, constant pruning won’t be necessary. It can also be espaliered or topiarised.

A dwarf form called ‘Baby Bay’ is faster growing and has an upright columnar growth habit to around 2m.

• Height 2–20m depending on cultivar

• Full sun to semi-shade

• Prune to required height

Lemon scented myrtle, Backhousia citriodora

This Australian native rainforest plant is endemic to Queensland and northern NSW. When grown to maturity it can reach 6m in full sun but can be easily clipped to maintain as a dense bushy hedge of 1.5–3m. The cream powder-puff flowers typical of plants in the Myrtaceae family appear throughout summer. The bees, birds and butterflies love the nectar-rich flower heads.

The foliage of lemon myrtle has the highest levels of citral of any plant known on the planet. This oil is often described as lemonier than lemon. The foliage can be used fresh or dried in savoury or sweet dishes. It’s also used widely in cosmetics and medicines.

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