Design, In the Garden, The Parterre Bench

English Hedges

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While one might think of England as all about herbaceous flower borders, there is actually an entire design discipline that has made an art form of hedges. They seem to be much more a UK and European tradition than here in the States. Probably all the more reason I find them imminently fascinating. Their significance within a total landscape scheme is represented in a myriad ways. In this post I’m including just some of the many examples I saw in my travels last May.

In the feature image (above) evergreen hedges can serve as an extension of grand architecture while also softening the hard, cold stone (below image). It’s fun to imagine the Parterre Bench at home in Buscot Park.

Perhaps the most familiar and relatable use of hedges is in the creation of garden “rooms…”

Some even have green doorways!

Also observe how hedges create and exaggerate a focal point, which brings such drama to a landscape…taking you “as far as the eye can see.”

Depending on the sense of humor of a designer or gardener, hedges can be brimming over with personality. Some I go so far as to call “the wonkies…”

where they might often have been left to their own devices to provide a contrast to the more orderly surroundings.

But then there’s Highgrove, home to Prince Charles. His entrance boasts limbed up holly “lollipops” and contrasting green hornbeam structures that I would like to assume are a take on the beloved London phone booths.

Looking at all these dreamy images, I’m made aware again of the beauty that surrounds us in this world…and the refuge that it provides. May I offer this as solace for the challenges facing us right now–beauty is a constant that no virus can unseat. Be safe and resilient, dear friends.

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

6 thoughts on “English Hedges

  1. These photographs are all wonderful. I have been fortunate to see these hedges in person but your photos are so good, I feel transported to these beautiful English gardens once again. Your comments about the architectural importance of the hedge is so true.

    1. Hello there, and hope you’re safe and well. I’m still holding out hope that my late May return to English gardens will take place.
      What a delight it is to look at those images from last May. Good to hear from you! xB

  2. “ beauty is a constant that no virus can unseat”
    How beautiful and how true!
    David Carson

    1. Thank you, David, I’m trying to focus on what’s really important as we’re all reeling from the day’s events. Be safe! xB

  3. I’d appreciate not seeing ‘pin me’ on every photo – it makes me stop reading the article. I get why your social media person is doing it, but viewers don’t want more visual noise and I’m guessing that many come to your site for respite. While the pins disappear if one scrolls up after the end, viewers will give up getting to the end if they have to get through 10 pins. Going through this was like someone desparately saying 10 times in a row ‘advertise our site’. Just pin the landing page image.

  4. Oh sooo beautiful, thank you, Bettie. I dream of pleached hornbeam allees and tapestry hedges, heaven help me… Thank you, too, for the armchair traveling, which is what we are all limited to at present.

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