Thursday, February 26, 2009

To Hedge or Not? Sort of like Vanilla & Chocolate

We were having a conversation yesterday about the merits of lorapetalum in its natural form, just growing all over the place, with those great fuschia blossoms (and now in whites, reds, and some other shades). This is the look I have in my own garden, mostly because I have it planted as "exclamation points" around the garden, and it would look a little too fussy if it were sheared.

(I have a picture elsewhere on this blog of "Little Rose Dawn," with its particularly loose form, billowing fuschia blooms all over the place.
All that said, there is definitely beauty in lorapetalum that is kept sheared. I first saw this at Smith Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, GA, where Dr. Bob Gilbert kept his lorapetalum sheared into a beautiful, formal hedge around a parking area. Part of why this is surprising is that Dr. Bob is definitely not a sheared hedge kinda guy. If anything, he is just the opposite, aiming for plants that grow undisturbed to their full natural size and form.

In my weekday garden, there are many lorapetalum hedges, in different sizes and cultivars. As much as my gardener side says, "Let it be!" I can't deny how much I like the crisp clean look of the hedge with its distinctive burgundy foliage. This garden is decidedly more formal than my own, and it's really the perfect look.

I think I'm going to stop apologizing to the natural-style gardeners about how severely sheared the lorapetalum is, and just enjoy its beauty in both forms....vanilla AND chocolate!


  1. I think yours look great - they almost look like barberry. I have one that is stuck in the middle of a border and shoots 12 feet into the air. It is really in a terrible place and it can barely be seen.

  2. This hedge is in the garden where I work, so it gets real attention; my own home garden always looks like the "red headed step child"; lots of lantana, since that's what will still survive when I get a chance to install summer annuals in June!

    I put in a New Dawn Rose Lorapetalum in my own garden, and will now be replanting it, since I learned it is going to soon be 7 feet tall and 15 feet wide!

  3. To me it's mint chocolate chip versus strawberry, but I've always been a little off center! ;-) Hedges are too formal for my garden, but I can see trimmed hedges as being good boundaries/fences, and a boxwood hedge, planted in a half circle at one of my clients yards, looked nice for the setting. Plus, and this is important, I'm eager for any excuse to use my electric hedge shearers, oh yeah! :)

  4. Sometimes ya just gotta get that "commercial gardener" feel out of your system with those hedge trimmers! I have to admit I had never used them until this year, and it secretly feels somehow wicked!