Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Foliage follow-up: Hedging my bets

I'd hoped to get my foliage follow-up post together last night but an extended power failure interfered.  We never heard what caused the failure but it lasted from 5pm to almost 11pm so my blogging activities were curtailed.  However, we did at least get some use out of the portable generator we'd purchased in the event that El Niño's storms knocked us off-line.  We've had numerous extended power outages since moving here and didn't want to push our luck with winter's weather.  Although the expected downpours and related problems never materialized, at least the generator we had stored in the garage allowed us to run some basic utilities last night.

But that's my version of "the dog ate my homework."  This month's foliage follow-up, prepared in connection with the monthly meme hosted by Pam at Digging, is focused on hedges, specifically our front hedge.  Hedges of Xylosma congestum surround our property on three sides.  There are other hedges as well but the Xylosma constructions are by far the most attractive and the most easily maintained.

Xylosma congestum hedge on the northwest edge of our property


While the hedge on the north side of the driveway consists of a continuous stretch of Xylosma shrubs, this wasn't true on the southwest side.  Half that hedge consisted of Xylosma and the other half of Auranticarpa rhombifolia (formerly classified as Pittosporum rhombifolium).  The latter was in bad shape when we moved in and I tried to prune it into shape.  Some of the shrubs succumbed after being cut back and some succumbed later without my help, leaving a huge gap.

The hedge on the southwest side of the driveway, showing the large gap left following die-back and removal of several Auranticarpa shrubs

The same gap shown from the main level of the front garden looking down toward the street


Following my initial pruning efforts, I began planting succulents in front of the Auranticarpa.  They flourished but I didn't like the way the hedge abruptly ended and the area behind the succulent bed was exposed to the street.  I began looking into hedge alternatives and for a time considered having my husband build me wooden screens to fill the blank spots.  Then another Auranticarpa shrub died and still another went into decline.  My husband eventually convinced me that it made more sense to extend the existing Xylosma hedge.  He dug out the huge stumps left behind by the dead Auranticarpa and I relocated some succulents.  I remain concerned that the Xylosma may encroach upon some of the remaining succulents but hopefully we'll be able to strike a balance.

We planted 4 5-gallon Xylosma last weekend at distances of 4 feet, in keeping with the approach used in laying out the original Xylosma hedge.  The grass-like Chondropetalum tectorum sitting in front on the second Xylosma looks awkward now but, as the new shrub gains some height, they should look better together.  If not, I'll move the Chondropetalum.

The new shrubs in place

The stake is a placeholder for the fifth Xylosma shrub, which we have on order with our local garden center
 

Xylosma is reported to be fast-growing.  It can get very big and, had I no prior experience with this plant as hedge material, I'd have been scared off by some of the reports posted on-line but, in the 5 years we've been here, there's been no problem keeping it within bounds with regular pruning.  However, even with the addition of 5 new shrubs, we won't have a continuous expanse of Xylosma along the west side of the property.  Four Auranticarpa remain, at least for now.



You can find more foliage follow-up posts by visiting Pam at Digging.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

20 comments:

  1. In no time at all that should fill in nicely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so! Xylosma is supposed to be fast-growing. The mature shrubs get pruned about 3 times a year.

      Delete
  2. If I understand correctly that you plant the new hedge inside the flower bed in the hedge opening, nice!
    Have a good time
    Mariana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the new hedge is planted as a continuation of the existing one. Hopefully, there will be sufficient room for the remaining succulents - the bed widens as it extends to the south end.

      Delete
  3. That makes sense and hopefully it will grow into a good screen soon! Xylosma certainly seems to have proved the best hedging choice on your property, and you've had plenty of alternatives...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There ARE hedges of various kinds all over this place! It's a little weird.

      Delete
  4. Will the newly planted hedge "to be" have a wider strip of succulents in front of it, than the others do? I'm a little confused by the photos (not that they're unclear, I'm sure it's just my head!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The mature sections of the Xylosma hedge have a depth of about 3 feet (as least when regularly pruned). The southwest bed (where the gap is) does widen as it extends to the far corner so I hope that the new shrubs won't crowd out the succulents in front of them as they mature but I remain concerned about that possibility. I resisted the extension of the Xylosma because the succulents are happy in that bed and I don't want to remove any more than I already have but, push comes to shove, I could probably limb up the Xylosma a bit to promote peaceful coexistence.

      Delete
  5. I have no doubt it will look great when it all fills in (it actually already looks good), and I love the tapestry of succulents in front of it. Never heard of Xylosma before - will have to look that one up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't heard of Xylosma before I moved here either, Anna. Now I'm literally surrounded by it.

      Delete
  6. I am quite surprised to see that you have hedges. I would be concerned that the succulents will get crowded out although there is an easy answer to that. I'm sure you could find a new home for them. I had to go searching for info. on the Xylosma only to find one of our garden bloggers here in Austin had planted one as a tree. He was praising the one over at the nursery 3 miles away from me. I must go and take a look at it. We do have a native one here in Texas X. flexuosa but the one planted was like yours, X.congestum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fear of crowding out the succulents led meto look for alternatives but I caved in to my husband's preference in this case, partly because I think continuing the hedge improves the property's curb appeal. Apparently, the shrub is often grown as a tree here too (although I've yet to see it in that form) so I assume I can limb it up to make room for the succulents if necessary.

      Delete
  7. I think you are wise to continue using what seems to be growing well Kris.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was intrigued with the idea of a wooden screen for awhile, Angie. However, while that would satisfy my need for privacy, I concluded that it might look as awkward as the empty gap does from the street.

      Delete
  8. Sometimes you just have to go with what works! Your hedge does provide a nice backdrop to your garden, so I'm sure it will look great when its all grown in.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good idea to extend the hedge. Xylosma is around this neighborhood also--several hedges planted in the early 70's and still going strong. Don't know why it isn't more used as a hedge--everyone goes for Ligustrum instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Xylosma does need regular pruning, which may be off-putting to some homeowners. Other than blowing leaves into my garden beds, hedge maintenance is almost the only thing my mow and blow team does for me - they handle the hedge trimming in segments but I'd say the Xylosma gets a light shearing 3x per year.

      Delete
  10. I've never had a hedge but hopefully this will fill in quickly for you. Will you relocate all the succulents or leave them where they are?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I relocated some of the succulents before we planted the 5 new Xylosma shrubs but left the majority in place. I hope they can stay where they are but I may have to mediate space issues as the Xylosma beefs up.

      Delete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.