Once an impenetrable fortress, Powis Castle in Wales is now guarded by its 400-year-old hedges and these days the invaders are visitors who come to marvel at their beauty. In contrast, the castle’s cottage and formal gardens are full of ideas you can use at home. It is a fantastic example of gardening through the ages, from medieval days to what’s on trend now.
A hedge gives the hard elements of your home a soft touch. But when your home is a medieval fortress in Wales, the hedge becomes part of the armoury!
There are 14 giant yew hedges at Powis Castle, some up to 14 metres high, clouding up to meet the sky, or melting down the baroque terraces that were added to the castle centuries later.
More than 400 years old, the hedges, called ‘tumps’ take two gardeners more than three months to trim into shape.
While renowned as one of the mightier castles of Great Britain, Powis Castle also does modest hedges that help rein in the formal and cottage flower beds bursting with life and colour in summer.
And it makes a floral feature of the castle’s baroque addition by using giant urns to house plants that tumble delightfully down the sides.
Powis Castle may be one of the most amazing examples of extreme gardening, but it is also crammed full of ideas for more humble patches like our own.
How to trim a hedge
Give it a good trim in autumn or early winter when it’s less humid and chances of infection are reduced.
- Trim from the ground up using sharp, lubricated and clean trimmers.
- Use stringlines if you want your hedge straight and leave the base a little wider than the top, as the tops of hedges grow outwards faster. It also means sunlight can reach the reach the lower levels of the hedge.
- Most hedges can take a harsh trim, except conifers, which don’t produce new growth on old wood.
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