Hedge Theory

The hedge plants are trimmed by a gardener with shears
As they have been, like clockwork, for twenty-five years.
Yet they push out new shoots in continuing hope
Of extending their reach through the fence on the slope;

Protruding through uprights, with glossy new tips,
Their ruby leaves follow, like sensuous lips;
Curved in the middle and quivering so
From the gentlest of breeze, as it moves down the row.

When the gardener arrives, I expect the hedge moans:
“Can’t you see that we’re covering ironwork bones?
Softening edges gives purpose for hedges,
And Nature gives pleasure wherever her edge is.

“Borders are fitting for nations and states,
The banks of a river, or dinnerware plates;
But not for Photinia branches and stems,
Or sweet-smelling flowers in white diadems.

“The feature we share, let us not be mistaken,
Is to never give up though our dreams are forsaken—
When time and again every effort is met
By failure to further our reach past regret.
In fact, we have assets that few would suspect:
An underground network, and time to reflect

“On theory developed from close observation,
A lifetime of fieldwork, and growing frustration;
Which holds that our gardener grows brittle with age,
And little by little, he’s reaching the stage
Where lifting a cutter may shatter a limb—
Soon he will discover the joke is on him!”



David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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20 Responses

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    It is a pleasure to read this personification of a hedge — one with ruby leaves like sensuous lips, no less! Lovely work, David!

    • David Watt

      Thank you very much Cynthia. I used a degree of poetic licence regarding the leaf shape. However, the new growth leaves are definitely a sensuous shade of red.

  2. Cheryl Corey

    Beautiful hedge, beautiful poem. Clever rhyme of “hedges” with “edge is”.

    • David Watt

      Evan chose a beautiful Photinia hedge photo to accompany my poem. I’m so glad you like the ‘hedges/edge is’ rhyme. A two word rhyme makes a nice change when it can be accommodated successfully.

  3. Margaret Coats

    David, “underground network” confirms the thought that this poem can be read as a socio-political allegory. How pleasant to find one in such charming disguise! Good use of the largely anapestic meter to give it a bright, easy flow.

    • David Watt

      Margaret, inclusion of the socio-political allegory wasn’t my initial intention when writing this piece. However, as it developed I realized that a network of freedom loving hedge plants may be seen in that light.
      Thanks for picking up on the anapestic meter, and the flow it provides.

  4. Jeff Eardley

    David, I will now be riddled with guilt the next time I go out with the clippers. Amusing and thoughtful at the same time, and pleasing to know that the gardener gets his come-uppance. An interesting two-part piece. Thank you for a fascinating read.

    • David Watt

      Jeff, I try to come up with something original, and this piece is certainly
      different. I commenced the poem as a serious piece, and the come-uppance idea soon came along. The more laughs we can find these day the better.

  5. Yael

    I never would have suspected that an anthropomorphized hedge could be so interesting and entertaining. I like it, thank you!

  6. C.B. Anderson

    In general, the harder a woody plant is pruned, the harder it grows, because pruning stimulates new growth. Proper pruning is good for a plant’s health. And I know a little bit about growing “brittle with age.” I don’t relish anymore the prospect of climbing to the top of a fourteen-foot orchard ladder. But yes, many people are afraid to prune for fear of damaging a plant, which can certainly happen if it is done improperly.

    • David Watt

      Kip, you may know a little of growing brittle with age, but much more about plants and their growth. Of course, you’re quite right that ‘proper’ pruning is beneficial to plants, and encourages new growth. I’m not so keen myself to climb onto the house roof for leaf clearing these days. Still, the task must be completed each year.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Yeah, I remember that. Eucalyptus leaves, however tempting they are to Koalas, are a fire hazard when they stack up in your gutters.

  7. Paul Freeman

    A hedge fable – very imaginative and very entertaining.

    Thanks for the read.

  8. jd

    I enjoyed reading your poem very much.
    No nits in the poem and hopefully none in
    the hedge.

  9. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    David, there is so much in this poem to love. I love the rhyme and rhythm (as I do with all of your poems) and I adore some of the bold images – the glossy tips/sensuous lips is magnificent. For me, this poem reads as a metaphor; an adeptly crafted conceit… I bet you can guess the subject my imagination is fixed upon. 🙂 Thank you!

    • David Watt

      Thank you so much Susan. I can freely guess the subject fixed in your imagination.

  10. Anna J Arredondo

    I thoroughly enjoyed this poem — so technically well written, and intriguing to the end.
    I also enjoyed (since I am a little behind) reading through the comments and getting more insight into its composition through your responses. It is amazing how a poem almost takes on a life of its own, growing and evolving, and you find yourself somewhere entirely different when it “ends.”


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