Our final flick through Miller’s C.18th encyclopaedia features Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium), another great hedging plant that has had mixed fortunes…
Winter Planting at Hedge Xpress
£8.95 exc. VAT
PRIVET (Ligustrum ovalifolium)
Ligustrum grows common in the hedges in most parts of England, where it rises fifteen or sixteen feet high. The leaves and flowers are used in medicine; they are reckoned to be cooling, drying, and stringent, good for ulcers and inflammations of the mouth and throat, bleeding of the gums, and relaxation of the uvula. [Do not try this at home!]
The toughness of Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) is still one of its major advantages and, sad to note, even 200 years ago air pollution in the cities was such that a tough plant was often required…
This shrub is frequently cultivated in the nurseries near London, to furnish the small gardens and balconies in the city, it being one of the few plants which will thrive in the smoke of London, but although it will live some years in the close part of the town, yet it seldom produces flowers there after the first year, unless it is in open places, where there is a free air. In the country, the leaves of this plant will continue green for the great part of the winter. It flowers in June, and the berries ripen in autumn, which generally hang upon the branches till Christmas.
What goes round, comes around and Miller would be surprised that during the C.20th, Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) regained its place as the garden hedge of choice in millions of gardens – back and, especially, front. And what would he make of the car? The need to find a parking space has led to the destruction of more Privet hedges than any change in C.18th taste…
Formerly these plants were greatly in use for hedges, but since so many others of great beauty have been introduced, which are much preferable to these for such purposes, they have been entirely rejected, the trouble of keeping them in order being very great; nor are the hedges made with them ever so thick and handsome, as those made with diverse other plants.
Miller’s last comments are surprising as Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) virtually defines the idea of a low-maintenance hedge. And they’ll grow as thick as you want.