Boxwood first came to our shores during the Colonial Era and is undoubtedly one of the most prized landscape plants in North America. Having been used in Ancient Egypt as a hedging plant it has a long and unbroken history in the garden. It is said that boxwood is the oldest known ornamental garden plant!
Why is boxwood so desirable? Perhaps it’s because it has the delicate looking foliage of a deciduous shrub while being a hardy evergreen. Its ability to handle heavy pruning into any shape or size may also be a reason for its star status. I think people love it because it’s one of the few shrubs that deer don’t love! This is a plus for any gardener!
Historically, boxwood has used to create amazing hedges and topiaries for formal European gardens, but unless you are adept with your pruners, allowing its natural brushy look to remain is preferable in today’s landscapes. Two of our most popular varieties, ‘Winter Gem’ and ‘Green Mountain’ are described below and offer the best that the boxwood genus has to offer!
‘Winter Gem’ Boxwood
(Buxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Winter Gem’)
‘Winter Gem’ Boxwood shrubs are the darlings of the compact shrub category. Leafing out in spring with bright and fresh foliage, these small specimens will reach 3-4′ in height and spread to 4-5′. Pruning keeps them tidy or shaped depending on the look you desire. Wonderful as a border hedge, lone specimen or in a grouping giving structure to a bed of flowering plants. It can also be used as a small “cover-up” to mask features you want out of view. Plant in part sun to part shade. Boxwoods are known to be drought tolerant once established.
‘Green Mountain’ Boxwood
(Buxus sempervirens ‘Green Mountain’)
‘Green Mountain’ has the same great features as ‘Winter Gem’ in a bigger package. It will eventually reach 4-5′ in height and spread to 3′ naturally keeping its upright conical shape. It’s a natural choice for hedging and garden structure. Light pruning will emphasize its shape if desired. ‘Green Mountain’ has darker foliage than ‘Winter Gem’ and will keep its green color right through the winter. The foliage grows close to the ground making it a good shrub for the back of an area. ‘Green Mountain’ makes a nice grouping with weigelas and lilacs. Plant in part sun to part shade.
Still thinking about those European gardens? Better sharpen your clippers!