The Tea Garden property doesn’t have a regular/rectangular shape and the hedges are somewhat disrupted as well. Unfortunately former owners have attempted to use some conifer – I think it is the Lawson Cypress (Cupressus/ Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) for hedging. It’s not suitable for a suburban garden, my opinion. It’s trying to be a tree – up to 50 metres tall. Great. The former owners have also hacked into the trees trying to top them and ‘bonsai’ them into a hedge. The lower branches have died off and/or become clogged with the leaf litter from above. It’s a complete mess. I want them gone, and fortunately one of my work colleagues has an urge for firewood. And does he have a deal for me? Would I be interested in swapping paving slabs and recycled bricks for firewood? How many nano-seconds to make that decision?
Meanwhile I still want hedging to keep privacy and security, and to preserve some sort of more natural looking landscape. My solution is to work with what is there already – in some places enough light has got in and native shrubs that will reach about 2-3 metres have begun to grow. I’m cutting back more of the dead branches, and adding lawn cuttings around the base to encourage the growth. There are some great thing about using the natives – they can be cut back happily and will form a hedge with a diverse foliage sheen, shape, colour, and texture. They’ll also provide feeding opportunities for the native birds – the tea garden is about 1km from the wildlife refuge as the Kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentriona) flies – I frequently hear the native parrots while I’m working outside. The shrubs will continue to self-seed, and so replacement hedging will continue to come through.
To add some further interest to the native hedging I have collected some ‘sweepings’ from a forest floor – I’m hoping the leaf litter will be full of seeds just busting to join in the celebration. I’ve set up four seed trays with a compost base, added the leaf litter, and then topped it off with a layer of compost. I gave the mix a good watering – the litter was very dry – and have laid sheets of glass over the trays to keep the blackbirds out. So far, so good.
As I trimmed back the overgrown hedging along the back of the property I discovered what I thought was concrete edging was in fact a path, the best part of a metre wide! The path has once marked a generous edge to the boundary, and by opening it up, in winter we’ll be able to walk around the tea garden in any weather.