Planning a sensory hedge border for the Community Garden

The new hard core and quarry gravel path which runs through the Community Garden is in need of an edge to soften the harsh appearance. As I mentioned in my last blog, a crop of wild flowers, weeds and aggressive grasses has appeared alongside it since its completion.

We are in the process of clearing all of this growth before it sets too many seeds and becomes an even more daunting task. Mention had been made of developing a hedge edging of sorts and the idea of a sensory hedge is being discussed as an exciting project which could provide an opportunity for further involvement, education and enjoyment.

What is a sensory hedge? Essentially it can be described as a linear arrangement of plants which can stimulate all of our five senses of touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. That’s straightforward enough but what plants do we choose to deliver the required stimuli to excite the senses? In this post, I introduce some plants which could be used for this purpose.

It is tempting to go straight for the plants which are largely viewed as Herbs. However those are mainly culinary and would not be the best choice to produce a perennial hedge with year-round interest. Besides, an area for growing herbs for regular cropping is planned as a part of the formal garden beds. This is not to preclude herbs altogether however, as some have cultivars which may well be very useful as a part of the hedge.

The following list of plants is not in any particular order, alphabetically or otherwise but is an introduction to a group of plants which would be ideal for the project. Perhaps you could choose a favourite or favourites? You can even sign up to sponsor the project by pledging to provide the funds for the purchase of some of the plants. It would be of great help as the area involved is a fair length.

  • LAVENDERS in variety. Evergreen, fairly hardy, a delightful sight in flower with a wonderful calming scent, tactile but be careful of all those bumblebees!
  • ROSEMARY. One for the herb garden maybe but there’s a variety, Miss Jessops Upright which has a impact and columnar habit which is perfect for hedging.
  • THYMES. Again one for the herb garden but this one, Thymus ‘Fragrantissimus’, meaning most fragrant has a beautiful scent, very showy in flower, perfect!
  • HYSSOP. An evergreen subshrub of ancient medical uses, said to have been offered to Christ on the cross by a Roman soldier, perhaps as an aid to reduce sweating, a bit too late maybe. Beautiful blue sage-like flowers in July and August.
  • SANTOLINA, Cotton Lavenders, in variety. Another scented leaved subshrub with little button flowers in a variety of yellows, very tactile and remarkably hardy.
  • TEUCRIUM. A member of Germanders, this species Teucrium hircanicum is a good follow up to the Lavenders with a multitude of tall blue spikes of flower from July through to Autumn.
  • PEROVSKIA Russia Sage. A truly hardy subshrub with woody stems bearing aromatic foliage to the touch which bears spikes of metallic blue, almost furry flowers well into the Autumn.
  • CARYOPTERIS x clandonensis. Another aromatic subshrub bearing spikes of scented Lavender-like flowers over a long season
  • SALVIA. Another denizen of the herb garden but a delight to the eye is a large plant of S officinalis Tricolor with its mix of coloured foliage of green pink and purple, lovely!
  • OREGANO. Yet another herb but Oreganum Hopleys Variety is a garden worthy herbaceous perennial which could serve as a space filler when the other plants are still small. Lovely.
  • ARTEMISIA. A member of the Mugworts, in variety. They have been used as herbal medicine for hundreds of years to get rid of intestinal worms. It is also used as a psychoactive ingredient in Absinthe. There are some hedging varieties such as Powis Castle which add a vibrant silver glow to the hedge.
  • HELICHRYSUM. Helichrysum italicum ‘Serotinum’ or the Curry Plant is another useful plant for scent and summer colour of its yellow flowers, also very tactile.

Other plants which are not woody enough to merit being included as a hedging specimen but which would serve as fillers until the subshrubs get big enough include: Costmary Tanacetum balsamita, Anise Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Calaminta calaminta and my favourite – Dyers Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria), months of wonderful cheerful yellow daisies.

Something for all the senses in a low and lowly hedge.

Look them up, tell us your favourites and sponsor a part of our sensory hedge. We already made a start by propagating some Rosemary Miss Jessop’s Upright, perennial wallflower and Russian sage at the Family Fun Day the other weekend!

2 comments

  1. Pineapple sage would be a good addition – it has an amazing pineapple scent if the leaves are crushed, or even just brushed against. It also roots easily from cuttings in a glass of water, so I’ll propagate a few from my own garden and hope they make it through the winter.

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