Living Fences


Living fences have for centuries been used to identify boundaries, protect crops from both domestic and wild animals as well as provide a habitat for wildlife. There is a spot in our yard that we need one – narrow, long and tolerant of a lot of shade. Maybe, living fence sounds too grand – maybe hedge would be a better way of describing it. I cannot find yet what I am looking for, but in my search I started recalling the notes that I have made over the years of hedges in different countries. This has always captivated me.


I remember the drives down the back roads of Ireland. There were hedges taller than the car lining both sides of the road of fuchsia in full bloom. They were spectacular! There were wild roses in Quebec, opuntia in the southwest. My notes from Bhutan mention ferns (they were huge) and marijuana. I do remember cows wandering along the sides of the road eating – always wondered what the milk tasted like. Morocco’s fences of cholla, opuntia, agave, as well as red and pink hibiscus reminded me a bit of our southwest. Peru also used agave to define boundaries, as well as Scotch broom and senna. Costa Rica, the land of the lush, was amazing. Plants we use as houseplants, marginata, ficus, croton, aglaonema, dieffenbachia as well as bird of paradise and bougainvillea were their fences.

San Miguel

None of this helps me – I am open to suggestions!