Out of the box

1While we like the odd bit of sharply clipped hedging – which is essentially a green wall – we have never been big fans of buxus. In fact we have both been known to scoff at it as possibly the world’s most boring and over-used plant. A few years ago when buxus blight first appeared in this country, we made plans and built up some camellia options for hedging instead.

We only had four short lengths of box hedging last week. Now we have one and that is a low layer of a tiered hedge. The buxus blight had not struck but we weren’t that happy with two of the buxus hedges which did not keep good colour. Besides, the camellias were getting somewhat too large in the field and needed moving.
2The buxus was gone by lunchtime. That is our handy little tractor which was one of our better purchases 15 years ago.
3Our choice for beside the driveway was Camellia transnokoensis which has very small leaves and a mass of tiny white flowers in season.
That is our Lloyd planting the new hedge this morning. He is hardier than both Mark and me. We do not go around with bare legs as autumn draws into winter. The plants went in at about 40cm spacings. We will keep the final height to around 120cm.
5We cut the new hedges back by close to half. This reduces stress on the plants which will have undergone quite a shock with their move and we want to encourage them to bush up and grow densely, rather than the taller, willowy growth. It should only take one or two fresh growths and the hedges should look as if they have been there from the start.

We think we will be much happier with camellia hedges than the boring old buxus.

4 thoughts on “Out of the box

  1. Anne Wareham (@AnneWareham)

    This is a classic, isn’t it? There is no such thing as a boring plant (except some roses maybe!) just boring gardeners. We love box – the shapes and lines we have made with it lift my heart when I see them.

    I think blight has damned it for new planting – but one straight hedge for another, with little white flowers: what’s the gain??

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I think what you probably love are the shapes and green lines, not the plant. And yes, there is no like for like swap that I have seen for buxus. That year round definition matters more in a climate where you put your garden to bed for winter because it gives you green shapes to look at out the window. It is different where we garden for 12 months of the year and there is always something fresh coming into its own, no matter the season. But what I dislike the most about buxus is the obsession we see in this country with edging everything, confining gardens to straitjackets, usually of buxus hedging. Generic gardening, I might call it. We will be happier with our camellias and masses of dainty blooms over a couple of months. In this case, they act as green walls to separate areas of the garden. They are definitely not edging plants.

    2. Abbie Jury Post author

      I should have added that the gain of Camellia transnokoensis includes nectar rich blooms for a couple of months in the depths of winter for our birds, insects and the odd over wintering monarch butterfly.

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