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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

Disappearing Trick
14 August 2002

Most gardens have a black spot. An object or an area which needs to be camouflaged, screened or made to disappear. It may be a shed, an oil tank or gas storage unit. Compost heaps can be unsightly and even the vegetable garden is a bit of a mess in late autumn and winter.

EscalloniaWhile panel fencing is often the obvious answer, it too, sometimes needs covering. With solid timber fencing you are prone to wonder what is behind it which defeats the objective. A living screen of plants may be the answer. Evergreen shrubs such as escallonia are invaluable. Thick, twiggy, deciduous beech, hornbeam or forsythia will hide a multitude of problems. There are climbers so rampant they are able to hide a fence within a few years.

As with any vigorous plant the growth needs to be managed. Allowed to rampage at will, they become an untidy heap. Regular pruning of the old branches which are tired of flowering will encourage new growths which may be trained as replacements. With shrubs, read the label to find out the ultimate height and spread. When planting to hide a shed or outbuilding leave sufficient space between the plants and the wall for essential maintenance such as painting and cleaning gutters.

SunflowersClimbers have a habit of finding their way into the building. Ivy will find the smallest crack and before you realise what has happened, it has as much growth inside the shed as outside. Fuel tanks are more easily covered if a free standing wire or trellis frame is erected around the sides and over the top to accommodate the climber and give support.
For temporary, summer time screening Jerusalem Artichoke is worth considering. Planted in a row, like potatoes, they quickly grow to 8-10 ft high dying down in the winter. They are related to sunflowers
which are another quick growing, excellent summer time favourite with their oversized flowers.

Hedging makes a good screen for the vegetable garden. Maintain it at a height to block the view remembering it will also block the sun causing shadow. Planting a mixed shrub border will be less formal and provide colour and interest all year.

The most difficult object to hide is the service pole. Where it is far enough away it can be screened by planting a narrow upright conifer such as Chamaecyparis columnaris or the upright cherry, Prunus Ama-na-gawa with its pale pink spring flowers. Position tall growing plants away from the overhead wires.

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