This Lonicera nitida hedge in a local Somerset car park is a prime example of how good this hedge plant looks despite neglect!
A good hedge is thick and bushy down to the base, which is easy to maintain in most cases by trimming at least once or twice a year.Years of neglect tend to produce hedges with sparse areas at the base, which eventually become gaps big enough to ride a boar through.
This is not a problem for Lonicera nitida, Shrub or Box Honeysuckle (i.e. the hedge kind, not the climbing kind), which is practically immune to pollution and being sprayed with mud and does this nifty thing called layering, meaning that its branches set root where they touch the ground. Over time, this causes the base of the hedge to slowly "walk" forward, preventing it from becoming sparse, even with no human help.
This hedge is trimmed, cheap and cheerfully, only once a year:
A humble car park honeysuckle hedge
It is growing happily on pretty bad soil right next to a concrete parking area: deeply compacted clay that bakes to a brick in summer and is underwater for days at a time in winter. It is never mulched or fed, and the worst weeds are ripped out every few years at best. As you can see, the base is regularly sprayed with puddle mud, which is a rich source of engine oil, car wash detergents, and bits of plastic. Thanks to this nutritious diet, it is leafy right down to the ground:
Leafy base despite being covered in industrial mud
If we poke our heads inside the hedge, we can see how the branches' layering property achieves this (the base of the hedge can't be seen, but it is around the right-hand edge of the below pic):
Who lives in a house like this?
The old, less leafy stems coming from the right edge of the picture, going down to the ground and rooting, are from the original base of the hedge. The new, leafy stems emerging from the ground, growing upwards and to the left, are coming from the roots made by the old stems.
Blue arrow: The old stems touch the soil and layer (root). Red arrow: new stems emerging from those new roots.
With the help of a pure plastic ruler, I can show you roughly how far these layering branches can walk:
Red arrow: original base of the hedge. Blue line: approx 30cm - see next pic
The ruler cannot reach from the base of the hedge to the first layer point, about 45-50cm away. After that, it layers again!
Introducing Lonicera 'Baggesen's Gold'
Now that Lonicera nitida's genius has been demonstrated, it's time to "introduce" her famous, handsome blond brother: Baggesen's Gold, which was discovered as a sport (one randomly mutated branch) of L. nitida shortly after the Second World War by a Danish-Welsh family nursery in Pembury, Wales, and is now one of Europe's most popular plants for town planners.
Here is how it must have looked to discover the original Baggesen's Gold:
So bright, my camera can barely stand the radiance!
Baggesen's Gold is the yellow bit in the middle, you know.
It looked so good that I decided to release the emergency poet we had locked in the attic here for just this occasion and replaced them with Doggerel GPT, the cutting-edge of robots who write better poetry and blog posts than humans me:
In the garden's tapestry, lush and green, A hedge of beauty, a verdant screen, Lonicera nitida, with its graceful allure, A foliage fortress, so steadfast and pure.
Its slender branches weave a seamless blend, A verdurous embrace, on which eyes commend. Thick at the base, it stands with pride, Nature's sentinel, by our side.
But hark! A secret, a treasure untold, A variety of hedgerow, beguiling and bold, Baggesen's Gold, a shimmering sight, Gilded leaves that sparkle in sunlight.
Amidst the emerald sea, a golden wave, Delighting hearts, as passions engrave, Enhancing beauty, with radiant delight, This ornamental hedge a captivating sight.
The morning rays dance upon its sheen,A dazzling spectacle, a vibrant scene, With every whisper of gentle breezes, Its golden foliage sways and appeases.
Lonicera nitida, you are renowned, But Baggesen's Gold doth truly astound, Together they stand, nature's masterpiece, A hedge so enchanting, may never cease.
So let us cherish these hedges fair, In gardens, sanctuaries, they declare, The glory of nature, its endless grace, In Lonicera nitida and Baggesen's Gold's embrace.