In this area, where most evergreen shrubs may be grown to perfection, hedge plants that make an evergreen screen are most frequently used and are much to be preferred.
To keep out dogs, small boys and other intruders, there is no need for a hedge screen that is so high it will obstruct the view or cause neighborly comment. Prickly hedges about two and a half to three feet high will prove to be an attractive answer to the problem. Among the best of these prickly or thorny hedge plants are Holly, Barberrry, Quince, Ruscus and Quickthorn.
The holly hedge is of great value when it is used between a garden and vacant lot, or to border the service alley. It may be trimmed to any height or shape and is useful particularly in preventing anyone from thoughtlessly crossing or passing through any part of the garden desired to be kept private. Generally, the holly used for a hedge is the “seedling” or male plant, which does not produce berries and therefore, not subject to vandalism by unthinking neighbors desiring Christmas decorations!
There are several sorts of holly. The green stem English holly with the very deep green, prickly leaves is the most desirable. Next to this in popularity is the blue stem type, which is a little darker in color. Both will grow very rapidly if planted in well prepared soils where a plentiful supply of moisture is available all summer. There are also many lovely kinds of holly with variegated leaves, streaked with purple, yellow, silver or white. These seldom are used, but are recommended highly for city gardens.
The garden barberries sold by nurseries here in the Northwest, are not a host to the rust disease. The Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii, is a compact deciduous shrub, lovely in spring with its hanging yellow flowers, followed by brilliant red berries and magnificent in the fall when the foliage turns brilliant scarlet.
B. darwini is a compact and neat variety, originating in Chile. It has quite dark, tiny green, holly-like leaves. Its clusters of deep golden flowers are followed by attractive pale blue clusters of berries.
B. verruculosa is even more compact than darwini. Its flowers are a much lighter yellow and it has small dark green leaves which turn a gay red color in fall.
Both darwini and verruculosa are excellent for use as a dwarf, prickly hedge for a garden border. Neither seems to get into any trouble from bugs or diseases.
CYDONIA – THE FLOWERING QUINCE
An old favorite in the garden that sometimes is forgotten is the cydonia or Chaenomeles (kee-nom’-e-les). This wonderful family to me, seems rather neglected. It shouldn’t be, because cydonias can be used for more than just the pleasure they afford the eyes. Good nurseries have several colors available, ranging from apple blossom to deep crimson. There are 13 horticultural varieties of Chaenomeles: C. alba is a medium-sized plant, about three fee tall with lovely white flowers: C. maulei is quite recumbent, its flowers are pink and though it is a low shrub, it has the largest quinces of any. This variety is adaptable to the rock garden or any small area where a shrub is desired.
Good for a Hedge – the cydonia that is commonly called Japonica grows five feet tall. The thorns and twiggy nature of this shrub make it a fine plant to use as a barrier or for a hedge. It will help guard some of your other plants from dogs; it can be used as a shrub border or as an artistic background behind a flower border. “Moses in the Burning Bush” as it is commonly called, is a well suited name, as its flame-colored blossoms, which bloom thick along the artistically bent branches, make the bush look, from a distance, as thought it were full of fire. The flowers appear before the leaves are out entirely. The leaves, which have a burnished, brassy hue as they are budding, are lovely combined with other flowers or used for an arrangement in a metal container. The early tall purple iris set in front of Cydonia japonica or near it in the garden, will create a beautiful picture.
Cydonias produce quinces that are edible and when combined with apples, make delicious jelly. The shrub is not particular as to soil conditions, but it must be planted in a place where good drainage is assured.
Branches of the flowering quince are easy to force into bloom in the house after the first of January. The flowers will not be so bright a color when forced - the flame or scarlet flowers will be more like apple blossoms, but they are beautiful in February when everything out of doors is still frozen.
The Original Master Gardener