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Archive for March, 2012

Boxwood – the Ideal Evergreen Shade Shrub

Boxwood give a garden an orderly look 12 months out of the year!

Boxwood or Buxus is an evergreen shrub that plays an integral role in garden design.   Generally associated with colonial times, many people are finding beautiful ways to  integrate this evergreen shrub with modern or contemporary designs.  Boxwood keeps a garden orderly with its irregularly mound of glossy foliage which can easily be transformed with hedge shears.

There are many different types of Boxwood, but  many professional landscapers nationwide favor Green Velvet Buxus because of its ultra-hardy, dark green foliage & vigorous growth habit. Green Velvet was bred in southern Ontario and cold hardy to Zone 5 winters, yet it is well suited for the south, due to its tolerance of warmer climates & high humidity.

Buxus lines a pathway to a secret sitting area while framing in white Impatiens and Hydrangea

Growing up to 4 feet tall, it maintains its glossy green leaves even in the winter.  Boxwood has many uses in the landscape. Here are a few on how it can be used.

  • Define, separate or enclose areas of the garden
  • Foundation planting
  • Low Growing Hedge Plant
  • Creates a formal framework in a garden
  • Outline a flowers border, walk or terrace
  • Large containers or planter boxes
  • Topiary
  • Specimen

Boxwood in containers. Boxwood creates a welcoming entrance to a front door

Planting & Growing

Boxwood or Buxus is ideal growing site is partial shade in moist, well-drained soil.

Plant the hole twice as wide by only as deep as the root-ball. Boxwood should only be planted in well drained soil.  They grow n soils ranging from slightly acid to slightly alkaline (ph5 to 7.5).

Boxwood’s are shallow rooted plants and benefit from 2-3 inches or mulch.  Newly planted boxwood’s must be watered well  during the first growing season as necessary to keep the soil from drying out around the roots.  Avoid digging around boxwood’s as their roots are shallow.

To grow boxwood into a seamless low growing hedge, plant 12” apart.  Branches will intertwine as they grow. Boxwood can be pruned into any shape. Branches grow quickly in late spring and early summer.

If you don’t plan to keep your boxwood short, space 24 inches apart in the garden where it will retain its upright, rounded shape you’d expect from a boxwood with little or not pruning

It is best not to fertilize the first year of planting. The second year, apply a balanced fertilizer .  Apply in early spring before new growth begins.  Avoid placing any fertilizer within 6 inches from the plant stem.  Avoid any late summer fertilization.

Shearing & Pruning

You can prune Boxwood in a number of different ways

Boxwood should be sheared after each flush of growth during the first two years to encourage branch development. After 2 years, they should only be sheared to maintain a desired form or height.  Annually, remove dead and damaged branches.

If your goal is to create & maintain a garden that would look good 12 months of the year – make sure you include versatile Boxwood Shrub.

View Boxwood Video

Shop for Boxwood

Easy Gardening with Drought Proof Nepeta Ground Cover

Nepeta & Roses combine beautifully on this slope

Nepeta or Catmint is one of the easiest drought proof ground covers you’ll ever grow.  This sun perennial is a member of the mint family and known for its fragrant foliage & flowers.  Catmint  will fill in fast, thrive on neglect and little water, yet still reward you with long lasting blooms.

Walker Low's gentle lax habit adds a soft look in this garden setting

I’ve grown a number of varieties of Nepeta over the years, and one that I’m particularly fond of is Walker’s Low .(Zone 3 hardy)  Just give this tough plant a sunny, well drained location and enjoy delightful blue  blooms from early summer-frost.

Here’s why Nepeta is such a great plant:

  • Terrific for banks and slopes.  Drought tolerant so it can take those tough sites
  • Edging – Gentle spilling habit softens any hardscape
  • Ground cover – makes an excellent ground cover for sunny areas
  • Sprawling habit  fills in fast
  • Blooms the first year
  • 8” lavender blue spikes (I cannot get enough of blues!)
  • Long bloom time
  • Thrives will little water
  • Garden Design –   Cool blue Nepeta blooms combine so well with warm yellows/golds such as Rudbeckia or Coreopsis,  For one of the longest blooming combinations, combine with Knock Out Roses.
  • Resistant to pests and diseases

Nepeta works well in sunny areas as an under planting to small trees

About the only thing I do is shear it back after its first flower flush.  This not only makes for a tidy plant but encourages a new flush of blooms.   I also remove old growth in early spring.

If you are looking for easy gardening – make sure you add Nepeta Walker’s Low to your list – you’ll be glad you gave it a try.

More on Nepeta:

Nepeta & Rose Collection

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