I wasn’t really planning something like this…
IT HAPPENED SO FAST, my head is spinning. At 3 o’clock, I was at Spielberg’s Nursery in East Hampton, now that fall sales have begun, looking to see what they might have in the way of shrubs to screen my front yard from the road. For months, I have been incubating the notion that it should be a “tapestry hedge” made up of native shrubs with varying textures and colors. A hedge that would always have something interesting going on with fruit or flowers, and attract birds and butterflies, like the books say.
I was armed with a list. Actually, a sheaf of lists. Among the suggestions: blackthorn, hawthorn, field maple, hazel, crabapple, honeysuckle, spicebush, highbush blueberry, pagoda dogwood, viburnum.
Spielberg’s didn’t have any of those. And when I factored in my two challenges — shade and deer — my options were further reduced. In fact, they were reduced to one thing: boxwood.
…something like this, perhaps?
Now I love boxwood. It’s tidy and green and reliable, and deer don’t touch the stuff. As one of my favorite garden designers, Dean Riddle, says, you can never have too many boxwoods. They’re the little black dress of gardening. But I wasn’t planning a uniform hedge, and I’ve yet to see boxwoods used as part of a mixed hedge. Not so’s I can remember, anyway.
By 3:15, I had bought three plump, 4′ tall Buxus sempervirens: Common or American Boxwood. By 4PM, they were delivered to my house. By 4:30, Dong, who has been helping me with weeding and mowing, was there with a shovel.
I hadn’t had time to plan, and Dong made it clear that once he dug the holes, that’s where the plants were going. So I did the best I could on the fly. I had him remove two mountain laurels that weren’t doing well on the roadside — not enough sun, probably — and replace them with two of the boxwoods (and move the mountain laurels to a more auspicious spot). I put a third boxwood closer to the house, where it forms a sort of triangle with the other two, for no particular reason except I thought three in a row would look stupid.
Actually, I find this one very inspiring, if ever I get a deer fence.
Among my papers is an article about mixed country hedges that calls them a “revolt against all that boxwood.” Well, now I’m in unintended revolt against mixed country hedges, I guess. I’m still planning to put some more free-flowing plants around my buttoned-up boxwoods. That is, if I can find anything shade-tolerant and deer-resistant besides box.