Sarah Raven: Putting the spotlight on shrubs and hedges

Gardening expert and author, Sarah Raven thinks hedging is an overlooked element of the garden.

Sarah Raven
credit: Photography © Jonathan Buckley

When thinking about a perfectly landscaped garden, shrubs and hedges may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but Raven believes it might be time to rethink traditional garden shrubs thanks to their many benefits.

Since moving to Perch Hill Farm in 1994, Sarah Raven planted roughly 750 metres of hedging, with plans to add an additional 3,000 metres over the next few years to support biodiversity and visiting wildlife. Shrubs and hedges create a safe nesting habitat for local wildlife, and provide a source of food for bees, hedgehogs, and birds.

The importance of hedging for biodiversity and carbon sequestration has also become apparent to the government, with grants now available to farmers who plant more hedgerows. Hedging offers shelter from the wind and is a great way to control the risk of floods affecting your garden.

Raven’s commitment to using hedges and shrubs comes from her passion for self-sustaining gardens that are easy to care for, beautiful, and offer vast environmental benefits. Advantages, she says are why shrubs are a fundamental part of garden design.

“Hedges and shrubs are often overlooked, but I think it’s time they became a priority. I like to use scented, long-lasting, and hardy shrubs to elevate outside spaces, and find that they can help create a truly lived-in look and feel. So, whether they’re pollinator-friendly, compact, or colourful, introducing shrubs is an easy way to elevate your garden”, explains Raven.

With a plethora of hedges and shrubs available, some of Raven’s firm favourites include; Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ for scent, the classic green Beech hedging for wildlife, Viburnum Opulus ‘Roseum’ for berries and/or pom pom flowers, Buddleja davidii ‘Wisteria Lane’ for pollinators and Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’ for its large, upright flower heads.

Headline image photography © Jonathan Buckley.