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Best flowering hedges | Blog at Thompson & Morgan


White lace-cap flowers of Guelder Rose (Hedging) from Thompson & Morgan

Guelder Rose hedging has beautiful flowers in the spring, and vibrant red berries in the autumn
Image: Guelder Rose (Hedging) from Thompson & Morgan

Hedges are generally viewed as practical but dull garden workhorses, marking boundaries and screening ugly vistas or providing a plain backdrop to more colourful planting. But hedges don’t have to be boring, and there is a place in the garden for more flamboyant hedging choices. 

There are many hedging shrubs which offer flowers, including some practical evergreens which still perform as dense screens. Smaller flowering shrubs provide opportunities for pretty path edges or to divide up areas. Flowering hedges can provide a lift to an otherwise plain and predictable landscape, enlivening an ordinary boundary hedge with a seasonal surprise of colour.

Evergreen and flowering hedging

Osmanthus burkwoodii

Osmanthus x burkwoodii from Thompson & Morgan

With a neat, slow-growing habit, this osmanthus shrub is perfect for small gardens
Image: Osmanthus x burkwoodii from Thompson & Morgan

With its small, dark green leaves, Osmanthus can easily be pruned into a neat, formal hedge and even topiary shapes. It makes a worthy substitute for box, and unlike Buxus it is untroubled by pests or diseases. However, it is a surprisingly underused shrub, perhaps because of its slow growth, although this is also one of its advantages, as it will retain its crisp shape without heavy maintenance. The white flowers may be small, but when they are produced in spring the scent is wonderful and will travel a distance. Perfect for a neat front garden hedge which will give you a welcoming waft of spring fragrance when you return home from work.

Evergreen Shrub
Type of hedge:  Formal. Densely screening.
Difficulty: Easy. A tough plant.
Flowering Time:  mid-late spring
Situation/ Soil type: Any, including poor soils and heavy clay.
Position: Sun or part shade, although flowers better with more sun.
When to prune: After flowering
Height and spread: For hedges between 1-2m

Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’

Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’ from Thompson & Morgan

Plant Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’ in a sunny spot and deadhead regularly to prolong the flowering season
Image: Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’ from Thompson & Morgan

With small, neatly shaped, glossy leaves and masses of pink, lightly scented tubular flowers throughout summer and into autumn, Abelias are high performing shrubs. Even when the flowers have faded, pink coloured sepals remain an attractive feature. In autumn the leaves turn a pleasing bronze colour. In areas of the UK which have mild winters it makes a lovely hedge and although it will lose some leaves in low temperatures, it will quickly recover with new growth in the spring. However, it isn’t suitable for cold, northerly gardens or  in areas buffeted by cold, drying winds.

Semi-Evergreen Shrub
Type of hedge: Informal
Difficulty: Easy in the right location (see below)
Flowering Time:  June to October
Situation/ Soil type: Free draining soils. Sheltered spot. Suitable for southerly gardens and coastal areas.
Position: Full sun
When to prune: Late winter to early spring
Height and spread: Suitable for hedges 1-2m.

Escallonia

Pink Escallonia flowers shrubbery

Versatile & hardy, Escallonia shrubs are available in a variety of colours
Image: Plantipp

Escallonias will form a dense hedge of glossy, leathery leaves bearing clusters of trumpet-like flowers from summer to autumn. A wide selection of white and pink flowered forms is available. The flowers are rich in pollen and nectar making them attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Evergreen Shrub
Type of hedge: Informal. Good for wildlife.
Difficulty: Easy
Flowering Time:  Summer to Autumn.
Situation/ Soil type: Any soil.
Position: Full sun
When to prune: After flowering
Height and spread: Suitable for hedges from 60cm-2m

Low hedges for path edges

Hebe pinguifolia ‘Pagei’

White Hebe pinguifolia 'Pagei' from Thompson & Morgan

With a high tolerance to salt-laden and polluted air, ‘Pagei’ would suit city gardens or coastal planting schemes
Image: Hebe pinguifolia ‘Pagei’ from Thompson & Morgan

The silvery grey leaves of this Hebe earn their place even before the dense spikes of white flowers appear from late spring to summer, combining beautifully with other Mediterranean flowers in pastel shades of pink, blue and white.

Evergreen Shrub
Type of hedge: Informal border or path edges. Great for bees and butterflies.
Difficulty: Easy
Flowering Time:  Late spring to early summer
Situation/ Soil type: Free draining soil
Position: Full sun
When to prune: Not required
Height and spread: 30cm x 50cm

Lavendula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

Lavender 'Hidcote' from Thompson & Morgan

Plant lavender ‘Hidcote’ in wildlife-friendly gardens to attract pollinators
Image: Lavender ‘Hidcote’ from Thompson & Morgan

In free-draining soil this has to be my top choice for path edges where you can readily appreciate its scent and the pleasing hum of visiting bees. Produces deep purple flower spikes on a compact plant. Even when it isn’t in flower, the evergreen foliage provides all-year interest and a useful silvery foil for other flower colours. Also recommended is ‘Munstead’, a slightly larger form with paler flowers.

Evergreen Shrub
Type of hedge: Path/border edges or divider. Equally suited to informal or formal gardens. Excellent for pollinators.
Difficulty: Easy provided you have free draining soil.
Flowering Time:  June-Early August
Situation/Soil type: Must be free-draining loam/sand/chalk. Not clay.
Position: Full sun
When to prune: After flowering in late summer trim about 2.5cm of the soft growth, avoiding cutting into old wood. Give a light trim again in spring to remove any frost damaged foliage. Regular pruning is important as otherwise growth will become leggy.
Height and spread: 50-60cm

Long-flowering deciduous hedges

Rosa rugosa

Rose rugosa 'Rubra' from Thompson & Morgan

Flowering from June-September, plant Rose rugosa ‘Rubra’ in cottage gardens
Image: Rose rugosa ‘Rubra’ from Thompson & Morgan

A beautiful summer-flowering hedge producing large, fragrant cup-shaped flowers over a long period followed by decorative, tomato-shaped, red hips. Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’ has large magenta flowers. ‘Alba’ has pure white flowers.

Deciduous Shrub
Type of hedge: Informal. Creates a dense thicket which makes an excellent security hedge. Good wildlife value.
Difficulty: Easy. An extremely tough rose which doesn’t succumb to diseases.
Flowering Time:  June to September
Situation/Soil type: Very tolerant. Any soil including poor sandy soils. Suitable for coastal gardens.
Position: Sun/partial shade
When to prune: March. Wear good gloves!
Height and spread: For hedges 1 – 1.5m (5′).

Potentilla fruticosa

Yellow and orange Potentilla fruticosa from Thompson & Morgan

Shrubby potentillas come in a variety of orange, red, pink and yellow shades
Image: Potentilla fruticosa from Thompson & Morgan

Potentillas are tough, versatile plants which will go on flowering all through summer and into autumn. Their small foliage and dense habit make them well suited to low hedging. The flat, wide petalled flowers come in a wide range of warm colours. Potentilla ‘Red Ace’ has bright red flowers which fade to orange. ‘Pink Paradise’ has pretty, sugar pink flowers and ‘Goldfinger’ is a popular yellow variety. If you want something more subtle, ‘Limelight’ is an RHS award-winning variety with creamy white flowers.

Deciduous shrub
Type of hedge: Informal.
Difficulty: Easy
Flowering Time:  May to September
Situation/ Soil type: Well drained
Position: Full sun
When to prune: After flowering.
Height and spread: 100-150cm

Bold and bright hedging plants

Forsythia x intermedia

Yellow forsythia hedging from Thompson & Morgan

Brighten up your winter garden with dazzling Forsythia
Image: Forsythia from Thompson & Morgan

The vibrant sprays of Forsythia flower are unmistakable and a real wake-up call from the dreary darkness of winter providing a blaze of golden sun which looks stunning against a bright blue sky. Throughout summer they have pleasingly bright green foliage before a final autumn performance of purple and yellow tints. Easily maintained as an informal hedge, Forsythia offer lots of creative pairings with spring bulbs. For vivid contrast, underplant your hedge with bluebells and forget me nots or alongside hot coloured Fosteriana or Darwin tulips. And for a hedge which really sings with colour, plant a mix of both Forsythia and Ribes sanguineum; flowering in unison the bright yellow Forsythia against the magenta Ribes makes an absolutely stunning combination.

Type of hedge: Informal
Difficulty: Easy
Flowering Time:  Early Spring
Situation/ Soil type: Unfussy and tough. Will adapt to all soils except waterlogged.
Position: Sun.
When to prune: After flowering.
Height and spread: For hedges 1-3m.

Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward VII’

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward Vii' from Thompson & Morgan

Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward Vii’ is a low maintenance and hardy shrub that flowers for years with very little effort
Image: Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward Vii’ from Thompson & Morgan

I’m a big fan of this tough but beautiful shrub which even in my heavy unimproved clay has quickly taken off. It makes a quick growing, informal hedge which provides a welcome splash of colour in the spring. In April it is absolutely smothered in clusters of tubular flowers which droop elegantly and provide early nectar for bees awakening from hibernation. The lobed leaves have a fruity blackcurrant aroma when crushed. I love the deep crimson of Ribes ‘King Edward VII’, but if you prefer something more subtle, Ribes x gordonianum is an unusual hybrid bearing delicately coloured two-toned flowers in coral pink and yellow.

Type of hedge: Informal. Good for wildlife.
Difficulty: Easy
Flowering Time:  April
Situation/ Soil type: Undemanding and vigorous. Will adapt to all soils including very heavy clays.
Position: Best performance in sun.
When to prune: After flowering.
Height and spread: For hedges 1-3m.

We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas for the perfect flowering hedging for your garden. For further tips and helpful advice, head over to our dedicated tree and hedge hub page.

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