Gardening column: Boxing clever with hedges

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening column: Boxing clever with hedges

Ornamental boxwood

One of the most widely planted evergreen shrubs, buxus, or box as it’s commonly known, is so popular because it tolerates shade, drought, urban pollution and tough growing conditions.

With shiny green foliage and 365 cultivars, box is a shrub that can solve many problems. It can be shaped into an evergreen hedge, clipped into topiaries, or planted singly to create a visual focal point in a garden. For centuries, box has been the preferred choice in formal European gardens because of its tidy shape and small, well-shaped leaves. We have a constant stock of box available here at Caragh Nurseries, the following being some of the most popular options.

Common box or Buxus Sempervirens makes a fabulous formal hedge forming a dense, evergreen screen of small, rounded, lustrous, dark green leaves. One of our favourite plants in our own garden designs, it’s an excellent backdrop for traditional herbaceous borders. Box is happy growing in a sunny spot but the combination of dry soil and full sun may encourage poor growth and leaf scorching.

Box Balls & Cones are a cornerstone of lots of gardens. The use of box balls and cones are a great way to keep structure and shape in the garden all year round. As designers, we would use these staples in lots of our projects, for shape and texture, and they look fantastic at corners of box hedging or to mark an entrance, start or end of the hedge.

Buxus ‘Faulkner’ is a compact and bushy type of box with the most eye catching, glossy, deep green foliage. Plant them as hedging, topiary or even as ground cover and they will always give a first class performance. They look great all year with hardly any maintenance. It’s a tougher variety than the common box and considered to be the most resistant to box blight.

Box does get a bit of a bad reputation as it can get box blight which is both irritating and unsightly - but we have help at hand. Box blight is an airborne fungus disease that specifically attacks box. Box blight doesn’t kill roots, so diseased plants don’t necessarily have to be dug out. The fungus survives in infected leaves, stems and residues.

Topbuxus Health-Mix is a revolutionary natural tonic for keeping your box bushes blight free, healthy and strong. It’s important that boxwood can absorb as much sulphur, magnesium, calcium and kali at the right times of the year. In addition, the correct NPK-proportion is essential. The boxwood needs the right amount of ‘food’ when the new leaves are coming. Topbuxus Grow is able to provide this. It’s a fertiliser that will be absorbed very quickly by the plants, which makes it able to notice the results fast. Topbuxus Grow keeps your boxwood healthy, without yellow leaves. For hygienic ground cover, try applying a layer of Topbuxus Carpet underneath and around your boxwood to create a hygienically clean environment around the plants in which diseases such as box blight are less likely to develop.

There is nothing quite like box. As any gardener will know it is one of the most popular plants, not only in the countryside, as formal topiary and immaculately clipped hedges are very popular in towns and city spaces all over Ireland where a quality hedge is desired. With appropriate care, you can now enjoy your buxus without the worry of box blight.

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