This here is a Rosa banksiae (banksia rose / Lady Banks' rose) pruned into a SQUARE-CUT HEDGE!
Did you know that you can grow a banksia rose as a neat, manicured, curb-appealing hedge??? Perhaps you did or, infinitely more likely, you don't care (that's okay too :). But this is a revelation for me and it couldn't have been more timely.
Three years ago I planted six white banksia roses along our back garden fence. In doing so I was willfully committing one of the rookie errors in gardening - I ignored the fully-grown size of the plants.
"9m x 9m? Whatever, it has such pretty flowers. It'll be perfect for our back garden, and I'm sure that it will fit neatly into the 1m x 1m space that I have given it."
Anyhoo, cut to now. They are so freakin' vigorous and are growing so staggeringly well... All six of them are getting completely out of hand in the tiny space that they were allotted.
I was just waiting until they had flowered before I pulled them all out and replanted them outside the fenced garden, perhaps up the driveway where they could grow as wildly as they wanted. Even though our garden isn't a formal one (not by any stretch), I thought I should replant the fence with a nice, manageable, well behaved, evergreen (if not a little boring) sweet box hedge. No flowers, but tidy and small. Not like my banksia roses, which are like gangly strangly teenagers most of the year.
But then I saw this:
This is one tiny section of a very beautiful tidy front hedge of mixed plantings, in front of a medical clinic in Berry on the south coast of NSW. It is so neatly pruned that it honestly doesn't even remotely resemble the same plant in my garden. In fact, had it not been blooming whilst we were visiting I would never have recognised it as a banksia rose at all.
So now I am intrigued at the potential of my bushes. I've been scouring the internet and haven't really found anything like that hedge in Berry, but seeing how tidy some of these examples are has changed my mind... I'm not giving them up just yet! (all the following photos are linked to their original sources - click through to view them)
Some garden notes about Rosa banksiae, for those who are interested...
I honestly thought that the Bankisa rose was a native to Australia until recently (read: fifteen minutes ago). Actually, it is native to central and western China... the name threw me but, as I suspected, it is named after the Banks that we Aussies became so familiar with in year 4 history (well, Sir Joseph's wife to be more precise)...
It is a scrambling, climbing rose, and is almost completely thornless. The leaves are evergreen although I have to say that my banksia roses have become quite bare every winter since they were planted... so it is not "evergreen" in the box-hedge way of things. The flowers are tiny, the size of a thumb nail, and they are the most perfect delicate things. They flower earlier than any other rose and are in full bloom right now in the warmer parts of Australia (we will be waiting another week or two here I think). The only real downside is that they are single bloomers, so once you get that first glorious flush, that's it for the year. Enjoy them whilst they last (then decide whether or not to rip them out and replant them!).