Boxwoods have a reputation for being boring. Just the same look all year long. Flowers too small to notice. No berries in the winter. Just an evergreen bush. Little leaves. Nothing flashy, nothing thrilling.
Poor boxwoods. They aren't boring! They are reliable. Always there. Always green. Shallow roots, so they can take quite a bit of water, yet drought tolerant at the same time. Can be left natural, trimmed into hedges, or shaped into topiary. How can that be boring?
I have always dreamed of having a garden with miles of boxwood hedges. Boxwoods are classic, simple, timeless. I wanted that timeless look in my garden. So I planted boxwood.
The first year I planted them, I was worried they would never fill in. I trim them twice a year, and as I was trimming them this year, I realized - next year they will be completely filled in! Wahoo! But, in gardening, as in life, there is always a problem.
Not only have the boxwoods grown, but so have the trees I planted in this bed. So my idea of a butterfly garden edged in boxwood is turning into a shade garden edged in boxwood. Mostly the boxes are just empty. But still, my beautiful boxwood boxes are lovely to me. And one day I'll find just the perfect plant to fill in the boxes. Just no promises exactly when that will be! Be patient, little boxwoods.
I also have boxwoods planted around rose standards. And along the back windows. And around the raised beds in the new east area. And in the pond area. And I have plans for more! Can you detect a trend? Oh, yeah, I love boxwoods!
My garden would not be the same without this evergreen backbone. Ah, boxwood - you're not boring, you're the best!
Do you have boxwood in your garden?
The best thing about boxwoods --- they are still green!ReplyDelete
Hey I like Boxwood and I love the area you did. Great backbone for other things. I decided from the beginning I would always plant what I like, not what others have dictated that they like or what is popular. If it's shaded now, you could always do the Heuchera in colors or Hosta in blue or yellow. The Boxwood would make those stand out. Just a thought since they are both shade tolerant.ReplyDelete
Cher Sunray Gardens
I love what you've done with them and I do like boxwoods - but I don't have any - yet! I love that they are evergreen (how is that boring?), I just need to decide where to put them in my garden :)ReplyDelete
Yes, I have boxwoods in my garden, and I love them! I took them for granted until after a few were destroyed by our 1990 tornado. At the time they were 40 years old. We hoped to replace them with mature specimens of similar size, only to discover that would have cost several thousand dollars each! Now I treasure my boxwoods, for that reason and all the reasons you mentioned. BTW, I like Sunray's idea of planting heucheras and hostas with the boxwoods.ReplyDelete
I agree! Your boxwoods look great! They make a great edging and add so much structure. Not boring at all!ReplyDelete
We are gradually replacing some plants with boxwoods in front of our house. I like having evergreens as a foundation planting, but I don't like for them to get too large. We bought a variety that is supposed to stay small. Sorry, I don't remember its name, but so far, so good.ReplyDelete
I use many kinds of boxwood and they are so versatile. They form the structure of a garden and do it with such little effort. I love my boxwood too. They surround and keep neat so many other types of plants.ReplyDelete
Tufa Girl - Isn't it amazing? I've lost some newly planted ones this year, but not any established ones. They are one of the best looking things in my garden this year.ReplyDelete
Cher - Isn't it funny how plants go through fashionable stages? Thanks for the shade plant suggestions! I love hostas. Heucheras I love, too, but they don't usually do too well here. Too hot for most of them, I think. I wish they did well - if they did I would edge a lot of my garden with them!
Gardening Blog - Isn't that the hardest part? Finding a place for every plant! I hope you do find a spot, and that you love your boxwoods too.
debsgarden - Wow - 40 years old. I can imagine how majestic and beautiful they were. Yours are a true treasure. Hostas and heucheras are a good suggestions. I want something very full and lush to compliment the small leaves of the boxwood.
tina - I do like they way they edge the garden. If only I had something in the middle! But, I'll find something perfect eventually, and I'll have the structure already in place.
Jane - You probably got the boxwood suffruticosa. I have looked for that type all over, but for some reason can't find it. But I'm not through adding boxwoods to my garden, so maybe I'll find it one day! I hope you enjoy yours.
GWGT - I love that you use different kinds of boxwood. I agree that they can make "messy" plants look a bit neater.ReplyDelete
I do have boxwoods and I love 'em. Did you know they have flowers? Funny little blooms in early spring that bees just love. Unfortunately, my boxes are really suffering from the Texas drought. All their new growth from spring and early summer looks sunburned -- all yellow. Poor dears They've been in place since the late 60's. I hope they survive.ReplyDelete
Holley, I am with you, I love boxwood, too. Especially since I have been in England this year, where boxwood is used extensively, I appreciate what they do for a garden providing a lovely evergreen backdrop. It is also great that you can prune them in all shapes and sizes. So far I don't grow boxwood in my garden and the reason for that is that I am a little afraid of all the pruning work that comes with them (I would love to grow them as spheres and low hedges). I hardly get all my roses deadheaded and pruned, sigh...ReplyDelete
Boxwoods are a plant I have not tried, but yours look amazing, Holley! I wasn't sure of the zones they prefer to grow in and always wondered if it would be too cold here. Now some research is in order, this is a very inspirational post!ReplyDelete
Wow, we certainly have differing opinions of boxwoods. I guess I've just never seen any that look great so I'm always trying to steer people away from them. But it sure looks like they are doing well for you! Ever any freeze damage on them for you? I prefer Dwarf Yaupon Holly -- just me. But that reminds me, I wanted to ask you about the Ilex Crenata you have (oh, can't remember the name of the small holly that you have -- Hellers Holly maybe??) Has it done well this summer and last winter? It looks so much like the Dwarf Yaupon. Wondering what the difference is? Smaller growth? That would be nice. Cannot say that I've even seen it at nurseries, though, or at least the wholesalers I frequent.ReplyDelete
I really agree, the pure green stuff can get overlooked, quietly doing their job in the background. What a great celebration of a humble but essential plant! I love this plant, especially the large ones that can make a separate room in the garden, lovely post.ReplyDelete
Boxwood provides structure and form to any type of gardening, including tropical style :) As you've said, they are reliable, and essential even.ReplyDelete
Caroline - I hope your boxwoods make it though this horrible year we're having. It would be a shame to lose such a treasure. Did you read debsgarden's comment?ReplyDelete
Christina - I hedge my boxwood with a battery operated hedger. Simple. Soooo much less time consuming than pruning the roses! But I can understand your hesitancy in adding even more chores to the garden!
Karen - There are different types of boxwood. I hope you can find one that's perfect for your conditions.
Toni - The only time I have noticed a lot of damage on my boxwoods was when I (stupidly) trimmed them in the heat of the summer. It set them back a bit, but they recovered. Now I try to do that chore first in the spring, instead of last! Helleri holly is very small, compact, with tiny leaves. I noticed some at the garden center a few weeks ago, so start checking now. I should have picked up a couple more. I want to put some in containers. No berries though.
Foxglove Lane - You're right. They're so reliable, they often get overlooked. But I think the evergreens make a garden.
Mark and Gaz - I am a bit surprised you have boxwood in your tropical garden. I really don't think of them as going with tropicals, but am glad you like them too - even think of them as essential! That really does show their versatility.
Have you ever transplanted any before and if so, was it hard to do with their root system? I have three boxwoods that were in front of an evergreen, but now that evergreen is so big, they are underneath the branches and need to be moved.ReplyDelete
Chrlie B - That question has a lot of variables. If the boxwood are fairly young, I would have no hesitation. Be care of the roots - boxwood roots are easily seen growing on top of the ground. If they are very old and have been there for a long time, I would try it if you were going to lose them anyway. But I wonder if you could limb up the evergreen? Then your boxwoods could stay. Good luck whatever you choose.ReplyDelete
Hey, I hadn't thought of taking off some of the lower limbs of the evergreen! Thanks for the input and idea! : )ReplyDelete
Charlie B - Hope it works out for you!ReplyDelete
Holley, I totally agree! I think boxwood is about the sturdiest, toughest, good sport of a plant there is. Mine have to take everything from full shade to full sun, and they do beautifully. Would something like cimicifuga work inside the open areas?ReplyDelete
Stacy - I love the suggestion of cimicifuga! That would look quite dramatic!ReplyDelete
I've been contemplating adding boxwood in my garden for the last couple months for the very reasons you mentioned in your post especially "reliable" and "always green". Your post just gave me more encouragement to follow through.ReplyDelete
I like your characterization of boxwood as the "evergreen backbone" of a garden and would absolutely agree. They are troopers that thrive in a wide a range of planting sites and always look good. I have them in my back garden and think that they make the garden look neat and contained.
Chad B - Yes, those are key words that are always good for the garden! I hope you add some, and that you love them.ReplyDelete
Jennifer - You're so right - boxwoods make the garden look neat and contained. There's just something about this plant that makes the most wonderful edging.
Your boxwoods look very happy. They add formality to a garden and I think they look great in yours.ReplyDelete
Your beautiful boxwoods make perfect hedges. I love the foliage.ReplyDelete
Masha - You are so right, and I love a touch of formality combined with exuberance.ReplyDelete
Autumn Belle - I love their tiny little leaves, too. They seem to compliment a lot of different types of foliage.
I have a lot of boxwood in my garden. They are hardy, green, and architectural. Someday I would like to create a boxwood edged planting bed as you have. They remind me of old classic gardens.ReplyDelete
I don't have any boxwood yet but I wouldn't rule it out. Any plant that looks good year round and acts as a foil to brilliant coloured flowers is wonderful in my eyes.ReplyDelete
This spring I pulled out all the overgrown shrubs in the front beds along the house and haven't replanted with anything structural yet. I've been waiting for it to rain and cool off (ha!). Anyway, I was thinking boxwoods would be a nice addition as they would stay small and give me some evergreen structure. I'm so glad I read your post...you've inspired me to think more about how I can use them as the backbone to those beds. I don't have much room and don't really want to line them up. Have you used them individually or in small groupings in places or do you find they are too small to do that? I added a little semi-circular flagstone patio that they would look nice around but am at a loss as to how to use them otherwise.ReplyDelete
I really have not given boxwoods their due. Also there are a lot of new cultivars since the old days of only one variety.ReplyDelete
Sage Butterfly - I think that's why I like them so. They are such classics.ReplyDelete
Marguerite - They do set off other flowers well. They add a lot in winter, but in the summer, they let the other perennials shine.
Cat - I have seen them used as small accents, either side of a drive or walkway - that sort of thing. I have some in a small semi-circle behind a rose standard. I think the main thing is to decide how you want them to stand out in winter, since they are evergreen, and design around that.
carolyn - Yes, though it's hard to find the new ones in the garden centers. Or maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place.
I do love boxwoods! And I am jealous - you have much more than me! You are right, they are classy and reliable!ReplyDelete
looks like the framework of something really amazing!!ReplyDelete
Tatyana - You must love them as much as I do!ReplyDelete
Wendy - I'm hoping it will be amazing when I finally figure out exactly what to plant there. Of course, that's always the hope in all of my garden! lol
I love boxwood hedges, though ours are actually miniature Euonymus.ReplyDelete
Mac - miniature Euonymus. Great idea! I think a lot of plants make a good hedge. Boxwood is just the most common, I suppose.ReplyDelete
We have compacta holly and everyone mistakes it for boxwood. Where we are, the winters are just a little too severe for these gems. The holly isn't as versatile as the boxwood (ie, no topiaries). But it does make a nice "faux boxwood) hedge. ;)ReplyDelete
Cathy and Steve - That's a good idea as a substitute for boxwood. I bet yew would do well for you. I love yew, but it gets a bit too hot for it here. I've fried several!ReplyDelete
Oh, I LOVE boxwood and the way you've planted them!!! I had lots of boxwood, but many of them got thrip (?) this year and turned brown and died. I'm heartbroken. Thankfully I still have a few that weren't affected, so I'm going to make cuttings of them this winter: maybe they're more resilient. Still sad though. I loved my boxwoods!!ReplyDelete
Farmer's Wyfe - I didn't realize boxwoods could get thrip! How terrible. I hope your boxwoods turn out great. I love these plants and can understand why you are so heartbroken.ReplyDelete