In praise of Pittosporum

A good proportion of our hedges on Scilly are Pittosporum angustifolia, which are very hardy evergreens originally from New Zealand. They are drought tolerant, salt resistant, and withstand high winds – all characteristics which make them flourish on Scilly. 

The hedges are equally as good at 6ft high as they are at 20ft plus, like this one on the farm. They can be cut annually or left for 3 or 4 years before a cut again. 

The flowers appear early in the year, from now until April; generally they are a lovely deep red but occasionally white. On a mild and still spring evening the scent is deep, heady and quite intoxicating!

They go on to produce seemingly thousands of seed pods per plant, opening up from summer through to winter. This results in often a proliferation of young plants below the hedges. These are quite easy to dig up and transplant to a new site if you want a new or replacement hedge.

The cuttings can be used for animal feed, or can be processed through a woodchipper to make good woodchips. Lastly, bigger pieces make very good firewood which burns very hot due to the high sap content.

Without these amazing plants we’d certainly find growing quite a challenge down here!

Jonathan Smith

I started Scilly Organics in 2003, and it was the first certified organic farm on the Islands. We continue to supply the highest quality fruit and vegetables, available fresh on our stall and at certain eateries on Scilly.