December 10, 2014
Caring for My Boxwoods
I love boxwoods and have hundreds growing all over my Bedford farm. Each autumn in years past, we have wrapped them in burlap to protect them from the harsh winter elements. But the wrapping process is laborious, and takes quite a lot of time. This year, in consultation with boxwoods expert George Bridge, we decided to do things differently. Instead of burlap, we are wrapping the shrubs in plastic netting. The process is faster and easier. And netting alone does a perfectly good job of keeping the snow and ice from piling up and breaking the limbs. According to Bridge, the only reason to cover a boxwood with burlap is if they are planted near the coast and susceptible to damage from salt spray or severe wind. And in the case of small shrubs that may be difficult to wrap with netting, we will still be using burlap. In today's blog you will see the wrapping process step by step. At this time of year it's also a good idea to put lime down and fertilize the boxwoods - that way the lime and fertilizer have a chance to work their way into the soil in preparation for spring. We never do any pruning of our boxwoods in this season - we do not want to promote any new growth that could get damaged by snow or ice. Wrapping and caring for boxwoods can be labor intensive, but taking these preventive steps keeps our shrubs beautiful and healthy for the spring.
1 In winter months when everything else is barren and brown, the evergreen boxwoods add color and structure to the landscape. Here are some that have not yet been wrapped in netting.
2 My boxwoods range from about a foot in height up to 15 feet, and are anywhere from one to 20 feet in width. This hedge is near my Winter House.
3 These stately shrubs line the allée leading up to my stables. The first step is to lay out the netting and secure it to the bottom of the shrubs.
4 Then the netting is lifted up and over the shrubs. The netting is actually deer fencing, made from a plastic nylon mesh. It's strong, flexible, and durable. We buy it at various nurseries in the area.
5 Phurba and Pete on ladders, securing the netting at the top with twine. Since the netting is pliable, it wraps around the shrubs easily.
6 Dendi delivering a bale of twine.
7 Here's Pete pulling the netting into place . . .
8 Then stitching it together.
9 It's detailed work.
10 Dendi ties another knot.
11 Purbha placing a stake at the bottom of a smaller shrub.
12 We mill these 2-foot wooden stakes ourselves at the saw mill on my property.
13 A screw at the bottom holds the netting, and at the top it's tied with twine.
14 Here you can see what the netting looks like all rolled up.
15 This is how the boxwoods look once we've finished. In essence we have put the shrubs in a cocoon that keeps the branches from splaying out and breaking under the weight of the snow.
16 Up close you can see the netting.
17 But from a distance, it's barely visible. It's so nice to be able to enjoy the beauty of the shrubs all year round.