November 30, 2007

My Boxwood Room

Boxwood, a popular evergreen shrub in garden landscape, is a very ancient plant.  Its ornamental use can be traced back to 4000 BC Egypt, and the early Romans favored it in their courtyards.  The wood itself is harder than oak and its foliage is dense and compact.  Because of its growing habit, boxwood can be sculpted into formal hedges, topiaries, and other fanciful shapes. 

The two most common boxwood for garden use are English boxwood (Buxus sempevirens ‘Suffruticosa’) and American boxwood (Buxus simpevirens ‘Arbvorescens’).  English boxwood grows at a slower pace than American boxwood, and its foliage is tighter and more compact. The leaves of the English are small and rounded, giving a smooth looking surface to the shrub, compared to the leaves of the American, which are elongated and pointed, giving a bit of a wavy effect.

At my farm in Bedford, there are several buildings, including the Summer House and the Winter House.  Mrs. Ruth Sharp, whose family I purchased the property from, moved from one house to the other with the change of seasons, as only one was heated.  With heat now installed, and no need to move back and forth, I think it’s fun to still call those buildings by their original names, which leads me to my boxwood room.

The Summer House is rather formal and I was trying to decide how to design an appropriate formal garden.  I’ve always loved enclosed, secret gardens and I thought boxwood might be a good start.  So, I went to visit my friend, George Bridge, at his boxwood farm in Virginia, and he pointed out an amazingly large grove of American Boxwood planted there 75 years ago.  The reason there were so many was because they were used throughout the years for their greenery clippings at Christmas time.

My new boxwood room measures 60’ by 120’ and contains 60 boxwood, in all.  I have plans to install a faux bois gazebo, a beautiful lawn, a terrace in front of the house, and of course, lovely garden borders. And what’s especially nice is that the Summer House faces a rather busy intersection and this wall of boxwood provides a good deal of privacy.      

Two sides planted. It was really strenuous work
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Discussing Measurements
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The Boxwoods were trimmed while being planted, and using a horizontal string stretched across the top they were trimmed evenly. The trimmings are awaiting use as holiday decorations.

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A wonderful screen providing privacy from the road
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