Here in the bleak midwinter, garlic waits patiently beneath the snow, cilantro and dill seeds bide their time, blueberry bushes rest. It’s not such a bleak midwinter after all. The ice shimmers and shines, gulls wait on chimneys against the bluest skies, and lists of ideas, of things yet to come, grow longer by the day.
And on that list of things yet to come is a hedge. A hedge! The food pantry garden lies in a conveniently visible location right along Route 190. Impossible to miss if you’re heading into or out of Eastport. But that convenient location can make the garden a noisy place. And when whether you’re picking peas, weeding dill, or mulching asparagus, it’s nice to be able to chat with your pals while you work.
What we need is a buffer, a barrier, a windbreak. A hedge! A dreamy little miniature sanctuary for wild things, with charming blooms in the springtime, sweet petals in the summer, rich red berries in the fall.
What does one include in a hedge with such lofty goals, I wonder. Maybe some of these plants would be just the thing.
Hawthorn. From the genus Crataegus which comes from the Greek kratos for strength and akis for sharp. And indeed, hawthorns are strong and sharp little trees. Their jagged thorns keep deer from devouring them, even when young. But their blooms in early summer are lovely and used in herbal medicine as a tonic for the heart. The little red fruits, which ripen in fall, are used similarly and can be made into an apple-like jam. Size varies widely among the countless Crataegus species, but a general estimate is a full grown size of about 10-25 feet by the same.
Rosa rugosa. You know it well. Either maligned or loved, this plant is infamously hardy. Growing in the poorest of soils, subjected to salty winds, and harsh storms, still this rose blooms prolifically, filling the summer air with sweetness and making the plumpest of hips in the early fall. Thought to be native to Asia, some are questioning if beach roses are native to North America after all.
Cornelian cherry. Cornus mas is in the Dogwood family. You know, those picturesque flowering dogwoods, the bright and cheery bunchberry that graces forest floors — that dogwood family. Native to southern Europe, Cornus mas is hardy to Zone 4, and flowers even before forsythia in the early spring. Seedlings should bear fruit in two to three years. At 20 to 25 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide, Cornus, makes a large hedge plant. But maybe one or two would do.
And then, of course, the hedge ought to contain a nice layer of herbs to cover the ground. Maximilian sunflowers, red clover, yarrow, chamomile, calendula. Probably some anise hyssop, some lemon balm, a few violets here and there. Why not.