by Jude Conway
What is this with the recent proliferation of hedges in Newcastle? Have they been surreptitiously migrating from Melbourne? Lustrous shrubs cut so boringly level and tidy and square. I’d rather they were left free to grow their own way, or if the owner feels like pruning, how about some aesthetically pleasing Japanese inspired shape?
A few years back I was visiting the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris and a friend’s father told me that there had been a spate of vandalistic hedge burnings. Now I’m no fire bug but I could understand the desire to create havoc with that boring sameness of hedges. I prefer the tantalising glimpse through the slats of a variety of fences, or the openness of no fence, than the uniformity of a hedge.
I have noticed only one house that does do a nice hedge (there may be others), and that is on the corner of Croudace Street and Russell Road New Lambton, the old Newbold’s corner. Disclosure: the matriarch of that house was in my year at high school, but I can assure you that would not sway my usual dislike of hedges, except that on this block the hedges do complement the manicured garden, and don’t hide the beautiful stone fence.
Even worse than the standard hedge (and don’t they all look exactly the same?), are the high hedges, seemingly grown to stop passers-by enjoying the architecture or garden of the hidden house, or to prevent the house dwellers seeing any of their neighbours. Now I’m a fairly reclusive creature who is content with my own company, but I can see out from my front verandah. Really, if someone doesn’t want to be part of their neighbourhood, why did they buy a house in that suburb, only to screen it from view? Maybe they may meet their neighbours every time they have to give their hedge an army haircut. Unless of course they employ a gardener for that humdrum repetitive task!
The BHP steelworks have been gone for fifteen years and the coastal city of Newcastle is emerging from its industrial smoke-screen, but I can only pray that the town where I was born and bred does not become so middle-class and ‘civilised’ that square boring hedges become even more wide-spread.
DOWN WITH HEDGES!