Day 161: the hedge

The hedge was planted just after we moved in, just a long row of twigs then – mostly hawthorn, but some beech, dog rose, hazel, one guelder rose and a european spindle…

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Henchman tripod ladders

I have a new best friend in the garden. He’s eight foot tall, has three legs and seems perfectly happy for me to stand on him for extended periods. I am of course referring to a tripod ladder, but not just any tripod ladder. This is the tripod ladder I’ve had my beady eye on ever since I began gardening as career, and it’s made by the UK company Henchman.

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Stihl cordless hedgetrimmers

Behind every glorious garden, whether the overriding style be neatly formal or wondrously wafty, there’s a machine-wielding gardener keeping the underlying structure in trim. It’s as necessary in a small domestic garden as a large public one, and in this post I’ll be putting machines aimed at both ends of the spectrum through their paces.

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EGO Power+ HT5100E battery powered hedge trimmer

My hedgecutter of choice is petrol powered – efficient and reliable, but also a cumbersome gas guzzler. Over the last few weeks, instead of this tried and trusted machine, I threw myself in at the deep end and took a battery powered alternative. Read on to discover how I got on.

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Life on the edge


Something that continues to fascinate me about gardens is the relationship that exists between the gardener and the natural world. We might be allowed to think we’ve got the upper hand for a short while, but this is just an illusion. Where the gardener seeks to impose their will – the tidily clipped hedges, fruit trees trained into espaliers and fans, or the neatly manicured expanse of baize green lawn – little more than a momentary distraction provides the opportunity for Mother Nature to reassert her dominance. And it seems to me that this relationship is nowhere more evident than around the edges of things.

Easily overlooked, I’ve come to appreciate that edges are key in providing definition and coherence in the garden. They help our brains to make sense of what the eyes are taking in. So while by nature I’m not an obsessively tidy person, it’s struck me this week that just about every garden I look at seems to be in need of a good haircut. Hardly surprising in a week of minor monsoons and mini heatwaves that the plants are growing vigorously away, but who has time not only to keep on top of the weeding, make sure the containers are watered, and mow the lawn twice a week, but also to ensure crisp edges on everything? As a working gardener, I know that good edging is the finishing touch that completes all my hard work in maintaining a beautiful garden. But as a householder I am aware that, as long as nothing is wildly out of control, if you look after the edges, you can for a time get away with a little less attention to what’s going on between them.

Noone wants to be a slave to their garden, so why not take a little time to neaten up the perimeter of the lawn, and then reduce the frequency of mowing for a few weeks? Similarly, take advantage of the RSPB’s advice against cutting hedges between March and August by leaving the noisy, cumbersome hedge trimmers in the shed, and clip off the straggly tops with some hand shears.

It’s not a long-term strategy — inevitably at some point, you will need to catch up — but anything that promises to steal a little time to enjoy our gardens has to be worth a try. I’ll be getting the shears out this evening after work. But only for a few minutes.
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