Contrary to traditional hedges, mixed hedges are made up of plants belonging to different species; generally we try to create a screen for the outside world, but using plants with variously colored foliage, with different development, with blooms in alternating periods of the year. In this way the hedge becomes a real decorative element of the garden, and comes alive with colors and movement. There mixed hedge more banal and undemanding, it consists of 3-4 different species of similar evergreen plants, or in varieties of the same plant, with different colored foliage, placed in sequence. But these rigidly organized structures can be replaced by beautiful mixed borders, made up of evergreen plants, mixed with deciduous shrubs; low species, juxtaposed with saplings, and so on, obtaining greater dynamism and scenic effect. The intent is to produce a border that recalls nature.
The choice of plants
While for a traditional hedge it is sufficient to choose a single species of shrubs, for the mixed hedges It is necessary to organize a sort of elongated flowerbed, in which to place different plants, but which can live close together, improving the overall effect of the structure. It is fundamental to choose plants that have the same needs in terms of climate, watering, fertilizing and soil, or that some plants may vegetate perfectly, while others suffer. For example, if we love hydrangeas and want to put them in our mixed border, it is important to remember that many hydrangea species need acid soil, and therefore we must choose all the other plants of the hedge among the acidophilic plants. When choosing shrubs it is also important to consider how close they are, and the development they will have; already in the nursery try to align the plants, so as to see the effect that the ones placed near the others make.
Colors, textures, blooms
Often when we try to imitate the randomness of nature, we get a chaotic and not harmonious result; for this it is important to organize the mixed hedge first. Important is to mix in the mixed hedge foliage of different colors, for example a touch of light leaves between two very dark-leaved shrubs, or evergreen leaves close to deciduous plants. Choose the blooms to climb, so as to have some flowering plants in the hedge for a long period of time; avoid, however, to place nearby plants that bloom in the same period, but distance them from plants with small flowers, or flowering that occurs at other times of the year. A good nurseryman will surely advise you, and try to choose plants that you know about at any time of the year. To give movement to the mixed hedge it is also important to combine shrubs and saplings with different development: a round-shaped plant, near a tall tree, then a couple of compact shrubs, and then a creeper. To better distribute the plants, make sure that on one side the hedge is higher, and goes lowering on the other side.
To prepare a mixed hedge we use the exact same plants that we would use for a traditional hedge, only instead of having to hold back by choosing a single species of shrubs, we can choose many. If the space occupied by the hedge is a lot, we avoid covering it completely with completely different plants, from the beginning to the end, and we buy more specimens of some species, in order to distribute more plants along the structure. The most used evergreens are viburnum, chamaecyparis, pitosforo, pyracantha, laurel, oleander, domestic nandina; if you love deciduous leaves you can also insert lilacs, roses of various types and growth habit, forsythia, chaenomeles, kolkwitzia, abelia. If you prefer acidophilic plants you can choose between azaleas, pieris, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, clarkies, camellias. If you already have a mixed border of plants, and you want at all costs to insert an acidophilus, you can think about growing it inside the hedge, but placed in a nice decorative vase, which can then be filled with soil suitable for cultivation.