Herb Hedge Plantings

Some of the fragrant herbs can grow as borders, edgings, and low
hedges. Others that aren’t fragrant also make good low hedges because
they have interesting foliage or ornamental gray leaves. Boxwood, though
not an herb, is the traditional edging in knot and formal herb gardens.

Probably the most ideal fragrant hedge is English or true
lavender (Lavandula
spica) or spike lavender(L. latifolia). Bushy, with narrow gray-green
foliage, it grows 1-1.2m high. Wonderfully fragrant flowers, lavender in
color, grow in spikes at the ends of straight stems one foot or more in
length. You can use the flowers in sachets, potpourris, and

Even though you may not want to gather the flowers for their
fragrance, cut the stems after blooming to keep the plants tight and
bushy. Keep the sides trimmed for a formal appearance. About every 3 or
4 years, take cuttings, root them, and replace old, woody plants with
the new rooted cuttings.

Dwarf lavender, some of which grow to about one foot high, make tidy
little hedges or edgings. L. stoechas, sometimes called Spanish
lavender, grows about 0.5-1m high and has deep purple flowers in dense
spikes. L. spica ‘Munstead’ is a miniature English
lavender, about 45cm
tall and earlier blooming than the species.

Lavender hedges are beautiful in themselves, wonderfully effective
along brick, stone, or gravel paths, and are compatible with many
flowers, especially iris, roses, carnations, garden pinks, gypsophila, nepeta, and regal lilies. The spiky blossoms of lavender add a sharp
accent to perennial borders.

Rosemary. Upright species of
rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) are
rangy and grow to about 0.7-2m high.
Rosemary makes a higher, broader
hedge than lavender. The gray-green foliage and stems carry a strong,
resinous, piney scent. In mild winter sections along the Pacific coast,
the soft lavender-blue flowers bloom through the winter and into early
summer. In the Northwest,
usually doesn’t bloom until April. A
little more touchy than lavender,
rosemary cannot be counted on to come
through extremely severe winters. Prune it after blooming to encourage
new growth. Upright varieties such as ‘Tuscan Blue’ should be planted
35cm apart fora hedge.

Santolina. One of the most useful low hedges, Santolina or woolly
cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) is more pungent than fragrant.
Ordinarily it grows as a spreading plant 45cm to 20cm high, but it looks
attractive when clipped to make a tight little hedge or edging about
20-40cm tall. Although santolina’s short, toothed leaves are best
described as gray-green, the plant takes on an almost white appearance
when full grown and is a good night time plant for corners of paths and
near garden steps. Some gardeners do not consider attractive the bright
yellow, button-like flowers and prefer to cut them off before they

Use santolina in the same way you would lavender. In size it is the
equivalent of boxwood for edging formal beds in old-fashioned knot and
herb gardens. Beds planted tightly with bright colored flowers look neat
behind clipped santolina.

Germander. Though it is not fragrant, bush germander (Teucrium
fruticans) is suitable for growing as a medium to tall hedge. It is 1-3m
tall and each plant can grow up to 2m wide. It makes a gray-green,
silvery hedge and can be clipped into various shapes for formal
appearance or allowed to grow more coarsely for casual gardens.

Another species, T. chamaedrys, is lower, 30-60cm tall and spreading,
to about 60cm with dark green leaves and many branching stems. For a
neat appearance, shear plants back once or twice a year to force side