Buxus sempervirens: a fantastic choice for a low-growing evergreen hedge
Buxus sempervirens (common box) has to be one of the most versatile shrubs available to us. Whether it’s a formal parterre, or a simple divide between a vegetable garden and a lawn, Buxus has a lot of offer.
A slow-growing evergreen shrub with small glossy mid-green leaves and happy in most growing conditions with the exception of very wet ground, Buxus can actually attain heights of 4-5m if left to grown over a very prolonged period. It has a compact and dense growing habit which takes clipping well and it is for this reason that it has become a very popular choice for hedges or topiary.
I love to use Buxus as a low hedge (30-45cm high) around a dining area or as an edging for a path, but it can also be a great low-maintenance solution for a front garden if combined with a contrasting plant for colour and interest. Lavandula, for example, can be very effective.
Buxus is an easy plant to look after, and whilst there is conflicting advice regarding when to prune Buxus, my preferred option for established plants is to clip in August. This minimises the risk of weather-related issues, whilst encouraging a neat structure that should last through to winter. Young plants, however, can also be pruned hard in May so as to encourage new growth, with additional lighter trims over the following two or three months if required.
It is important to acknowledge that Buxus can be susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, Perhaps the most well-publicised of these issues in recent years is box blight, a fungal disease that affects the leaves causing discolouration and die-back. Left unchecked it can decimate a plant and quickly spread. For very severe outbreaks there is little option other than to remove and destroy the affected plant(s), but cutting out affected leaves and stems and applying a fungicide can limit the damage if it is caught in the early stages. For more advice I would recommend the Royal Horticultural Society’s website at www.rhs.org.uk.
Even allowing for the risk of blight, I will always want to have Buxus in my garden. If you haven’t got some already, maybe this is the year to introduce Buxus semperivens to your garden?
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