The Hedge Olympics pits the most popular and successful hedging plants against each other in a series of events that includes those scored according to the stop watch or tape measure or by marks for artistic impression…
Before any Olympics, the contestants parade around the ring so here’s this year’s entrants in alphabetical order:
Beech, Cherry Laurel, Common Box, Dwarf Box, Griselinia Littoralis, Hornbeam, Leylandii, Lonicera, Photinia Red Robin, Privet, Purple Copper Beech, Yew
Our first event is the most one-sided as Leylandii beats all-comers with its eyes shut and one hand tied behind its back. However, Privet and Escallonia Macrantha ‘Rubra’aren’t exactly slow.
Silver: Escallonia Macrantha ‘Rubra’
Most hedging plants never get to reach their full height, but left to their own devices, three of the most popular will reach surprising heights:
Gold: Leylandii (35m)
Silver: Beech (30m)
Bronze: Hornbeam (12m)
Best in the Wet
A dislike of waterlogging is a common feature shared by many hedging plants so these medal winners are the ones to go for if you get through wellies like Usain Bolt does running shoes.
Silver: Common Box
Bronze: Griselinia Littoralis
Easiest to Maintain
Arguably the most crowded event as no popular hedging plant could actually be described as ‘difficult’. However, after a series of closely fought heats, three winners finally emerged.
Silver: Griselinia Littoralis
Bronze: Dwarf Box
Most Colourful Display
Back in the early days of the Modern Olympics, medals were awarded for less sporty endeavours such as Town Planning, Poetry and Poodle Clipping*, so including an event that is purely aesthetic is in keeping with Olympic tradition. The four medal winners here were pretty much a foregone conclusion, though Photinia Red Robin only took gold after a Stewards’ Enquiry.
Gold: Photinia Red Robin
Silver: Copper Beech
Bronze=: Lonicera Baggesen’s Gold / Beech
*37-year-old Avril Lafoule from the Auvergne won the Gold Medal in the 1900 Olympic Games by clipping 17 poodles in the allotted two-hours. He was cheered on by a crowd of over 6,000 spectators.
Another contentious event with the Judges finding it difficult to decide exactly what was meant by ‘versatile’ but having agreed that contestants should be generally unfussy and equally at home as either a hedge or specimen plant, tempers cooled and the podium was filled:
Gold: Cherry Laurel
Silver: Common Box
Best for Topiary Novices
Including hedging plants that come pre-shaped caused some controversy and even accusations of cheating. However, the judges felt that keeping a Box Pyramid or Ball in shape met the criteria exactly. Privet therefore had to make do with the Silver.
Gold=: Box Pyramid & Box Balls
Image by Sundeip Arora