The other day, I was driving along in Mission Beach, near the Catamaran Hotel, and I happened upon a hedge that I myself had planted nearly 30 years ago. Remembering that I planted it, I decided that I ought to stop and take a look at it. What a magnificent thing – here’s a little hedge, only about three feet tall, made from a plant called Natal Plum, botanically known as Carissa. It’s bright green, and for 30 years it’s been sitting in the same spot. I looked at it more carefully and noticed that the irrigation system was totally dysfunctional. I don’t know how long it hadn’t been watered, but I reckon it’s been quite a few years. Well, I’m sold.
Natal Plum is a fabulous plant for people to use and its so drought tolerant you can’t believe it, it’s also bright green and has a little delicate white flower that smells like gardenias. What more could we ask for from a plant? The great thing about it is that it comes in all sizes. What I mean by all sizes is that there is a dwarf, low-growing variety called ‘Green Carpet’ that would make a cute little one foot tall border or even a groundcover. There is a midsize one called Carissa tuttlei which becomes a good mid-size border and would work great in a formal garden or as little mounds on a slope somewhere. There’s even hardy rugged one called ‘Boxwood Beauty’ with tight foliage that has larger thorns and larger flowers that makes a better plant for your yard than many other things. There’s even a bigger one – Carissa ‘Fancy’ or ‘Grandiflora’ that makes a large, impenetrable barrier with real thorns. That’s a hedge that some of you might need – imagine if you have a parkway in a neighborhood where people a walk across it – you can plant a plant that uses hardly any water, has beautiful flowers, and enough thorns that people won’t mess with it. So, next time you’re thinking about a hedge or a border think about Carissa – Natal Plum. It’s a hedge for all people in all situations.