By Gabriella Nashiva

Gardens are meant to be breathtaking and relaxing that’s why we take time to select the flowers and plants, the arrangement and even add a little bit of our personality to it! Hedges are also referred to as live or living fences or walls of greenery.

The choice of plant to us is determined by the purpose of the hedge or screen, the climate as some plants do well in dry climates, and others in a wet climate. The topography this will determine how water drains into the soil and the type of soil, as different plant do well in different soil and you want your hedge to flourish.

Advantages of hedge plants compared to walls and other types of fencing

Cheaper alternative

Eco friendly

Less global warming, conservation

Aesthetic value (beauty, aroma, color)

Absorb sound and reduce noise pollution

Trap dust compared to walls

Manage glare of bare space

Manage exposure to the sun

Windbreakers and temperature regulators

Privacy and restrict casual trespassing

How to plant hedges and plants to consider

Planting is done in a continuous pit as opposed to individual plant pits. Trenches, unlike nursery plants, allow even growth. Your hedge requires adequate watering, manure bone meal, and compost

Kei apple (also dovyaliscaffra or Iberia caffra) is native to Namibia, southwest Africa around river Kei, hence the name. Kei applies an edible hedge (produces a jelly-like fruit) and a member of the Flacourtiaceae family. The fruits can be used to make jams, added to salads, jellies, and syrups. It does well in sandy soil hence suitable for the coast and saline conditions, and in

addition, prevents cliffside erosion. It has many thorns for better security barriers from wild animals and intruders not allowing even small openings between thorns. It is drought tolerant. However, it produces a biochemical that inhibits the growth of other nearby plants.

An example of a neatly trimmed duranta plant hedge, growing behind a street bench. Photo credits:

Duranta is the most common hedging plant in Kenya also known as sheen’s gold. It is a fast-growing and evergreen shrub. It has a beautiful golden color, with eye-catching yellow foliage. It looks good even with minimal pruning. Best for creating color contrast. It gives a beautiful thick bush look good for formal hedging too.

Bougainvillea is another plant to consider for hedging. The beauty of the bougainvillea is, the less the water the more it produces flowers. What an exemplary attribute we can borrow for our own lives! Personally, the bougainvillea has been a favorite of mine since childhood for its beautiful flowers. It is planted in a 1m by 1m by 60cm deep with well-packed compost and bone meal. It is sun-loving. It needs to be trained as it can easily grow wild to a thick overgrown bush.

Plumbago hedge with the flowers blooming. It is a highly drought-resistant plant that makes the scenery beautiful year-round. Photo Credits: Pinterest

Plumbago, also known as plumbago auriculata is another example of a hedging plant. Plumbago derived fromplumbum meaning “lead” as it was believed to be a cure for lead poisoning. Auriculata means ear-shaped referring to the leaf base. It is good for formal and informal hedge and responds well to pruning, as it flowers bloom and re-grow quickly. New growth is bright green and darker when

mature. Butterflies love the plumbago. The plant covers a large area and can be very useful for big gardens. Traditionally it was used to treat wounds, broken bones, and warts. It is sniffed to cure headaches and dispel bad dreams. However, some researchers believe it is toxic to humans.

Hakea hedge plant is an evergreen shrub or tree that is drought resistant, colorful, and attracts birds. It is great for smaller gardens. Grows well in drained soil, sun-loving, and can stand strong winds. It is cost-effective.

On a side note

Here’s an additional consideration, because am that student who did extra work after homework. Lantana Camara is a weed that ironically has very appealing flowers making it hard to believe it’s a weed. It is also known as a tick berry plant. It is native to Latin America and a shrub common in Kenya. The plant is fast-growing, typical for any weed and its leaves have a strong scent. The reason I put it last is it is very toxic when consumed by animals. It causes photosensitization, a chemical reaction that occurs in the animal’s tissues when exposed to ultraviolet rays of the sun, as a result, the skin is damaged and inflamed, killing the skin cells and could even bleed! The same chemical reaction affects any plants near it. An immediate cure is stopping consumption and preventing animals from sunlight exposure lantana seeds when consumed may cause death and nervous malfunctions. It is among the world’s top 10 worst weeds.