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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi everyone.  For years I have grown blueberries, raspberries, and bush cherries in a hedge with great success.

Our soil here is relatively poor in many areas (mostly rock hard red clay) so what I do is double-dig a long trench about 4 feet wide, work in as much peat moss, compost, and other organic matter as I can get, and then plant the bushes so that they will form a hedge at maturity.

The advantages include efficient use of land area, maximum fruit production in that area, and ease of mowing, weeding, and picking (you just go up and down each side of the hedge and you're done).  The blueberry, raspberry, and cherry hedges are rows inside the orchard, but the fig hedge will be a perimeter hedge (that's all that's left for planting in the orchard).

Disadvantages include that figs are not evergreen, but in the location this really isn't an issue.

The biggest advantage is that this gives us a LOT of room for new figs.

So I'm already working on my wish list for next season.

Hope everyone is well and best wishes to all.

John
North Georgia Piedmont
Zone 7b
TucsonKen

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Reply with quote  #2 

Sounds like a very interesting approach. What sort of spacing will you have between fig trees, and how wide & tall do you envision your hedge at maturity?


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Ken
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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Ken.  I have all winter to think about.  I will be digging the bed this winter (the best time for any heavy work in the South), and setting out the fig trees in the early Spring.  But I am thinking about 3-4 feet apart.  And then keep the hedge pruned to about 4-5 feet wide and 5-6 feet tall.  That's pretty much what we have done with the Blueberry and Cherry hedges.

It's tight spacing but that also means weeds between generally get shaded out.

Hopefully it will work out nicely, like the other fruit hedges, but even if it doesn't you just replant and try again. 

Gardening isn't like parachuting.  Even if you have a disaster, you still get to try again.

Hope all is well with you.

Best wishes.

John
North Georgia Piedmont
Zone 7b
GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #4 
P.S. Ken: I was thinking about you this weekend, when we had a snake drama.  I hadn't seen a snake at our house in over 10 years, then a rat snake showed up and got under the house through a crack near the foundation vent.  Nothing $200 couldn't fix though, and as a snake-a-phobe, it was worth every penny to bring in a pro.  And he had a heck of a time getting him out.  Those are constricters and he was wrapped in there good.  But fortunately he was safely removed unharmed and relocated far, far away.

Let's hope it's a another 10 years or more before we see another one.  And we are getting a contractor to assure that there are no more cracks or openings that they could use to get in, and making sure there are no rats, mice, etc., to attract them.

So enough about the snakes already!  ;-)

I'm creeping myself out just thinking about it.

Best wishes.

John
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Reply with quote  #5 
Glad the drama ended well for everybody--you, the snake, and whoever got the $200!

Thanks for the hedge idea. It might have an application in my yard, but I'll need time to really mull it over. I've long been of the opinion that if my trees were close enough together that their watering basins were essentially just narrow dikes between the trees, that it would be a more efficient use of water because each tree's roots could extend under the adjacent basin for a "borrowed" drink. My current situation is an expanse of totally dry, scorched earth outside the driplines. If I could contour the land so as to direct storm run-off into these contiguous basins, I could also probably harvest quite a bit of water during our summer "monsoon" season.

Laying out my nascent fig "orchard" as a pair of parallel hedges might allow me to surround it all with a low, wire fence and then efficiently cover the whole shebang with bird netting. With a narrow walkway up the middle (inside the netting) I'd have good access for whatever fussing with them I feel like doing, and by clipping the netting to the top of the perimeter fence I could easily raise it to harvest any fruit I can't reach from inside.

Having the trees that close together might also eventually create a favorable microclimate with somewhat higher humidity, cooler, shaded soil, and a bit of a windbreak for the inside foliage. It might also make them much easier to cover for frost protection.

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Ken
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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #6 
Sounds like a great plan Ken.  One of the great things about a forum like this is that someone can take a general idea and make an even better mouse trap for their situation.  That would be a pretty efficient and impressive set up I would think.

I have about an 8 foot test run hedge going this year, and I am also using it to put in random cuttings in the open areas between planted figs for new trees, so while the permanent trees are growing it is also doubling as a new tree nursury as well.

And I miss my $200.  But I don't miss the snake.  I'm pretty sure the guy who helped us out liked the snake about as well as the $200.  He seemed very happy to have it and relocate it to his property (a safe 30 miles away).  It was certainly an impressive critter by local standards, so I hope they are very happy together.

Stay well my friend.

John
North Georgia Piedmont
Zone 7b
GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #7 

P.S. To water our fruit hedges, I leave a soaker hose running down the length of the hedge and just connect and water as needed.  It's efficient for both labor and water.

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Reply with quote  #8 

That would make for an easy job. I'm still trying to work out the best way to water my stuff. The only way they really seam to thrive is flooding the basins.


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Ken
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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #9 
The Fig Hedge Project is moving full speed ahead now.

The trees were cleared this winter (huge job), and now it's just 150 feet of rotatilled dirt, but as soon as I get the trees in I will post a picture.

Best wishes to all.

John
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Reply with quote  #10 

we don't get intermediary pics?!


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Jason
Atlanta/Grant Park area - z8
GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #11 
Hi Jason.  I can do that.  I just wasn't sure anyone wanted to see the bare dirt, etc.  Even the planted twigs will be a little less than spectacular, to say the least, but maybe it would be nice to document the process.

Based on the progress from the test bed last summer though, by the end of the summer it should start looking pretty good.

Hope you are well my friend.

Best wishes.

John

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Reply with quote  #12 
I love it, you know why?

You get to see the before, during and after.  You get a full picture of the story.  Later on, you can sit back and see what it was and how it became the glory that it is.  If it doesn't work out, you can see the process and figure out ways to refine it.

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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #13 
Here are pictures of phase 1: Clearing the trees:


Attached Images
jpeg Fig_Hedge_2010_1.jpg (688.46 KB, 189 views)
jpeg Fig_Hedge_2010_2.jpg (949.63 KB, 213 views)
jpeg Fig_Hedge_2010_3.jpg (941.47 KB, 166 views)

GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #14 
I am very happy to share Jason, and even more happy that at least one person is interested!  ;-)

I do everything as naturally and organically as possible.  I'm not Amish, but grew up around the Amish.

I cleared most of the trees by hand, but have to confess that towards the end, a friend with a chain saw took pity on the old man with the hand saw and a row of trees!  ;-)

I did break down and get a rotatiller though.  I could dig with a shovel up by the Great Lakes (where we had many, many feet of top soil over peat moss), but this hard Georgia clay (and 20 years later) required a rotatiller.

I am amending the soil with lots of peat moss, some wood ash (from the cleared trees), ground alfalfa meal, kelp, and fish meal.  Then topping it with straw (to deter weeds), lots more peat moss, some top quality potting soil, and pine bark mini nuggets on top.

Then I will go down the row and plant, light figs on the North end, dark figs on the South end (because these will have to be netted together).  And run a soaker hose down the whole row.

Once this is done, it will be lots of figs, with not lots of work!

Best wishes.

John
GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #15 

I also added ground crab shells, ground shrimp shells, and lime to help balance the PH.

TucsonKen

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Reply with quote  #16 
Lots of work John, but it sounds like it will be well worth the effort! Thanks for posting the photos.
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Ken
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Reply with quote  #17 
Hi John,

You GO, Guy!  You have some good ideas, there.

noss

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JD

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Reply with quote  #18 
John,

I too am interested in watching the fig hedge evolve. Keep posting photos. I think I recall seeing a couple of those in another of your post. Thanks to you, I started a fig hedge also.

JD


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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #19 
Thanks Noss.  I will keep everyone posted on the progress, what works well, what didn't, and in this way by everyone sharing ideas and experiences, fig growing for everyone can be improved.

And hi JD.  Hope the fig hedge works well for you too.

I was pretty sure I had posted those pictures from last fall already, but since I didn't see them on this thread I posted them here.

I finished up the fig bed yesterday.  I will take a picture Sunday before I start planting, and post a photo of the bed, then a photo of it planted, and later this summer, the results of growth in year one.

It should work just fine though, because I have been growing blueberries and bush cherries like this for years successfully.  Using the hedge means less weeds (the hedge form shades out the weeds underneath pretty well). no mowing around each plant (just a straight shot mowing each side), easier and more efficient watering (just run a soaker hose down the length of the hedge), and easy picking just by walking down one side and up the other.

Best wishes to all.

John

GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #20 
PROJECT UPDATE:

So far I have:

1) Cleared trees
2) Shortened stumps to the ground and innoculated stumps with mushroom spores
3) Rotatilled
4) And liad down a layer of straw, topped with tons of peat moss (a whole palet; 35 large bails); pine bark fines and lime (to balance some of the acidity).

I am going to start planting the figs, and then top it with a nice layer of pine bark mini-nuggets for a nice finished look, and put down a drip irrigation line (the whole hedge is about 150 feet).

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jpeg Fig_Hedge_in_progress_April_2011.JPG (680.14 KB, 135 views)

Herman2

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Reply with quote  #21 
Hi John:Once your trees are established in ground,by next year I doubt you will need to water them,during Summer.
I would say water only if the tree droops leaves in down position,otherwise ,do not,so the trees grow roots far and deep,which will make them more winter hardy and productive.

GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #22 
Thanks Herman.  Very good advice.  This makes sense, and this is what I will do.

I planted about half of the figs today, and hope to finish up soon.

I will keep everyone posted.

Hope you are well my friend.

Very best wishes.

John

John

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Reply with quote  #23 

I wonder what would happen if you took multiple varieties and merged them together like that.  What would the end result be? 


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Jason
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JD

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Reply with quote  #24 
The result looks funky. Check out
It is known as pleaching and in the video, the guys at DaveWilson Trees show a 3-in-1 pleached fig tree. Here is the definition from Wikipedia

"Pleaching is a technique that may be used to train trees into a raised hedge or to form a quincunx. Commonly, deciduous trees are planted in lines, then shaped to form a flat plane on clear stems above the ground level. Branches are woven together and lightly tied.[1] Branches in close contact may grow together, due to a natural phenomenon called inosculation, a process similar to grafting."


You can check out a photo here.

JD


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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #25 

The Fig Hedge is Done!

The figs are planted now, the soaker hose is installed, and the whole thing is covered with several inches of additional mulch.

Not much to look at yet, but in a few months all the figs should be up nicely and I will post a picture.

Best wishes to all.

John
North Georgia Piedmont
Zone 7b

Attached Images
jpeg Fig_Hedge_Planted_001.JPG (628.89 KB, 174 views)
jpeg Fig_Hedge_Planted_002.JPG (633.81 KB, 134 views)

TucsonKen

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Reply with quote  #26 
Congratulations--it looks like a great set-up!
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Ken
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Reply with quote  #27 

John - any progress to add to this thread?  Curious to see how you're getting along!


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Jason
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Reply with quote  #28 
Any update pictures???
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Grasa
Seattle, WA
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Reply with quote  #29 
Yes.  We're overdue for an update.  
(I have also started hedge in similar (red clay) dirt and rocks.    I'd really like to see how yours is doing, and how the spacing and your watering system is working out).

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Dave
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Reply with quote  #30 
I have a 50 ft by 10 ft strip on the west side of my driveway that gets a good amount of sun that I am considering for a fig hedge.

My primary question is spacing, I would like to pull off 6 or 7 ft between plants, grown bush style, obviously it would need some pruning to make it work.

As Dave said, updates or contributions from anyone who has a fig hedge would be greatly appreciated.

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Reply with quote  #31 
I would like to see the results, i took out a raspberry patch to make room for a fig hedge between two pine trees about 30 foot long. i am planning on using hardy chicago, i am getting many more kinds now, so i may do somthing with the HC. havend decided yet. got another line about 40 foot long to i wanted to put figs at as a hedge. not alot of space but want alot of trees. so this will kill two birds with one stone so to speak.. i just need to narrow down what i put there.
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Reply with quote  #32 
Well I have not grown but keep in mind: Air circulation, Sun penetration to center, watering and root expansion. The first 2 can be controlled by pruning and positioning. The only one that you can't is root size after planting. So that has to be taken into account before setting in planting area.
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Reply with quote  #33 
The smaller hardy chicago i planned on planting 7 foot apart this should allow enough root space. i would just need one with close to the same growth habbit if i were to alternate. and lik wise trees on the other run as well. the front one will get full sun all day. all year the 30 footer will not get as much but i do have one hardy chicago planted near the same spot. it gets a little less sun than the new spot would and it has thrived and set good fruit. it is however still young and i was told that its flavor will only improve with age, peaking at about 5 years. or so im told. right now its going into its third year.
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Reply with quote  #34 
Today I laid out a hedge that will hold 16 plants but I used 10 foot centers.  The opposite fence line will have a hedge as well but it will only be 12 plants but also on 10 foot centers.
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Reply with quote  #35 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WillsC
... I used 10 foot centers.   


That should be adequate for your hedge.   In my hedge, which I planted in April and May, trees are mostly on 6 foot centers, with a couple of favorites spaced at 7 and 8 feet so they will grow a bit larger than the others and (hopefully) produce more fruit.   My hedge is ten trees now, all different varities, and I expect to add one or two more.  Tree height will be kept at around 6 feet.

As far as root zone goes though. they'll still have much more room for root growth than if they were in a pot.

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Reply with quote  #36 
Very nice Dave I might drop back to 6 foot or just sray at 7. eather way its going to be fun to do i great to watch grow.
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Dave Zone 6b Illinois

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Reply with quote  #37 

Yes, it is very enjoyable watching the hedge fill in.   We got a few figs from it this year, even though the trees are all very young. 

I strongly suggest getting a watering system in as well.   Whether drip tape, or even just a soaker hose. 

If I was doing it again, I would probably put them a little further apart.  7 feet sounds pretty good actually..  Especially if you are using different cultivars.   If all the same (like you plan with hardy chicago) probably no big deal. They'll be better protected by being closer together.   

But with different trees with different growth habits, you wouldn't want a great tasting favorite being held in check by two aggressive growing trees on either side of it.   You can prune them back of course, but still...


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Reply with quote  #38 
Come on guys...let's see pictures of these hedges! ... and an update from OP :)
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Reply with quote  #39 
We had three nights of frost in early November.   The hedge ain't too pretty at the moment.

These were taken earlier this year and show a portion of it.

 
Attached Files
zip Fig_Hedge.zip (1018.17 KB, 58 views)


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Reply with quote  #40 
Very nice job Dave! Look forward to seeing it next growing season...
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Reply with quote  #41 
Dave, the trees are looking very nice! Are you going to let them grow taller and taller?  

I got some cutting from a neighbour down the street who had 5 trees and these 5 alone were covering most of his property.  Perhaps some 30 years old - most likely never pruned.

I like how yours are looking right now.  I am planning mine and just cannot wait for them to grow.  How long as it been since you planted them?

Can you throw a tarp over them with a bamboo (like an umbrella to protect them from the cold air/frost?)

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Grasa
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Reply with quote  #42 
  this espalier is a great idea to incorporate in the hedge.

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=2627095


Wonder what the ground cover is.. anyone guess?

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Grasa
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Reply with quote  #43 
Dave awsome job on the hedge. Grasa i like the fan look but i think i would rather not. if i have my hedge to uniform i wouldnt want to take cutting to shar with everyone.
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Dave Zone 6b Illinois

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Reply with quote  #44 
Dave, what varieties have you planted for the hedge?  Is the plan to have them grow and fill in the sides?   I wish I had a bigger piece of property!!
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Reply with quote  #45 
I am going with a hedge to fit more trees and maximize space. if i chose wisley then i can have 10 trees altogether in my two hedges that i am working on. i ripped out raspberried and blackberries a month or so ago to make room for more figs. thinking about getting rid of my one grape vine too. that will open up a spot for 6 more and i can put another 12 in the back. my bigest problem is where to put what. guess i better wait until everything roots so i know exactly what im working with. I have found out alot about the kinds i have and are rooting but i still dont know what all thier growth habbits and ave hieght is. important info.
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Reply with quote  #46 
I am just waiting for the 811 people to show up and mark the lines so I don't cut our cable line which runs right where the irrigation line will be running.  They only put the cable line down 6 inches and my whomper will cut that line like it isn't even there.  Then the wife will yell at me lol so here I sit waiting for the locator. 
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Reply with quote  #47 
gotta keep the wife happy. momma aint happy nobody is.
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Reply with quote  #48 
These pics were taken a month or two earlier than in the previous post.  All are different varities.  The first five trees in the forground  below were all cupped January 1 of this year from cuttings from forum members. They are rapidly catching up with the others, which were in pots and given to me by another forum member.  I have two, (maybe three) spaces left for trees, one in the forground, and I mayt turn the corner at the far end.

The plan is to let them grow together into a hedge, keep it below 6 feet for easy picking, and to prune each tree to three or four main limbs so as to get brebas every year, then allow those three limbs to leaf out for the hedge effect.  I will allow one or two limbs to grow horizontally out into the yard as well.  

Trees are two feet off the fence, in a four foot (slightly) raised bed, and heavily mulched with straw.  The fence is four feet high.

The other side of the fence is an  easement for our underground utilities.  Still my yard for five feet.  I have told the neighbors and the utility meter readers they are welcome to figs next year...but not bags of them. 

And I know what you mean Wills.  My tv/internet cable is also very shallow, not in conduit, and runs under one of my trees and down the center of my blackberry bed for about sixty feet.  

Gotta be careful when digging in there!

Attached Images
jpeg 100_1695.JPG (962.21 KB, 55 views)


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Reply with quote  #49 

insperatinal pics Dave. giving me ideals to incorperate in my own hedge which with any luck will be planted this spring. I look forward to seeing more pics later down the road.


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Reply with quote  #50 
Looking forward to seeing pics of your project as well, Dave
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