A Native Alternative to Traditional Box Hedge

The Artful Gardener
The Artful Gardener

My favourite native plants for compact low hedges, topiary or clipped balls are the Westringias, collectively known as Coastal Rosemary. They are in fact in the same family as rosemary and mint but are native to New South Wales. 

If you are looking for a substitute to box new releases like ‘Aussie Box’ and ‘Grey Box’ are a great option. 

‘Aussie Box’ is best suited for hedges about 50 to 70 centimetres, whilst ‘Grey Box’ is best for 30 to 50 centimetres.

A rule of thumb for pacing your hedge is to divide the desired height by three, a 90 centimetre high hedge will have plants at 30 centimetre centres.

Acmena smithii ‘Allyn Magic’ is a dwarf Lilly Pilly that will also make a great small hedge between 50 to 100 centimetres. It is slower growing than Westringia but has wonderful glossy leaves and distinctive dull orange new growth. 

These plants can also be pruned into their natural ball shape as can Westringia ‘Blue Moon’ making them great for clipping into a neat dome and providing a more formal contrast in your garden scheme.

For larger topiary or clipped balls from 1-1.5 metres use ‘Wynyabbie Gem’, ‘Blue Gem’ or ‘Zena’ and clip these to your preferred shape and size. They can make a real statement when contrasted with strappy leaved plants such as Dietes or Spear Lilies. Avoid the plain Westringia fruticose as this is a much larger plant and harder to clip to this size.

Westringias are easy care plants. Once established they tolerate drought, heat, humidity, and wind. Westringia do prefer good drainage and grow best in full sun but will take a bit of shade. While they are not hungry for fertilizer, growth is improved with the addition of a slow-release plant food such as Osmocote Native Plant Fertiliser.

Next month I will be sharing my thoughts on this year’s Melbourne Flower and Garden Show. In the meantime, happy gardening.

Visit Clark+Granger at www.cplusg.com.au or phone 0456111120 to find out more.