Saturday, January 9, 2010

Feature Story: Introduction to Boxwoods

Boxwoods "Man's Oldest Garden Ornament," have been with us since Roman times and before. The first boxwoods were planted on America soi l at Long Islant in 1653 brought over from Amsterdam.

The three most popular types of boxwoods grown in the United States are "American" (Buxus sempiverens), "English" (buxus sempivirens 'Suffruticosa') and Buxus microphyllum. Sempivirens is latin for evergreen. Hybrids from 'sempivirens' and 'microphyllum', like most hybrids that are marketable, are generally faster growing and more disease resistant.

Boxwood grow very well in the Kansas City area as long as two very important needs are met.
They require good drainage AND they do not "like their feet wet." By this I mean plant them a little higher than soil level so they can drain. If the drainage is poor then leaves will discolor and depending on the severity may even die. Also, both soil and heavy mulch should not hug or smother the trunk of the shrub.

The above image is from the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. The Blanke Boxwood Garden does justice to the species. I saw the Garden in its first season before I moved from St. Louis to Shawnee. So I only saw the hardscape and the young plantings but all the potential. I look forward soon to see the crodensho. Visitor enter through a brick wall courtyard catching glimses of the center of the garden. The entry walk leads visitors with plantings showing the perfect interplay of perennials and boxwood along the way. The center of the garden is an oval boxwood parterre accented by flowers and groundcovers. A parterre is a garden where flower gardens, beds and path are arranged to form a parttern. The lower hedges map out he initials of the founder, Henry Shaw. (A future issue will have more about this fine gentlemen)

P. Smith uses boxwood in two distinct ways. Traditionally sheared as a low hedge surrounding rose and herbs. He says boxwood responds well to being "put under the knife." But also using boxwood as "punctuation marks' as in

I strongly reccomenmd visiting an independent garden center for aid in selecting height hybrid ftor the location in your garden. You CANNOT rely on plant tags to make your selections at the big box retailers (i.e. Home Depot) It's a little known fact the commercial growers hyave only one tag for the information regarding height and width of that variety.. So talk to your garden center for local information.

'Green Velvet' was born and bred in Ontaria, Canada so you know it tough.

Although boxwood is a slow grower, it is fairly easy to grow

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