Boxwoods to the Rescue

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This one’s just for fun, above — it’s one of the more original examples of boxwood topiary I’ve seen in East Hampton

IT’S PLANTING TIME AGAIN, and sale time, too, in the nurseries here on Long Island. Forty percent off trees and shrubs…and I just happened to need a few.

For a long time, it’s bugged me that the first thing I see when I open my front door (which is actually on the side of my cottage) is my neighbor’s mint green propane tank, below, and, when they’re home, a black Volvo station wagon in their driveway. These are about 25 feet from my door, inadequately screened by the most pathetic privet hedge you ever did see. (The picture below was taken in April 2010, year 1 of my perennial garden.)

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Now I like my neighbors very much, and we’ve had several discussions about how to get that privet to regenerate. They are reluctant to do a radical pruning, which I advised, because then we’ll have nothing at all for two years; anyway, there’s not enough light for healthy privet. (Well, he is reluctant; she said, “Go ahead, chop it down, I don’t care!” and I do believe she meant it — but I couldn’t. After all, it’s not my privet.)

I also considered a fence and a trellis, with or without something on it. I tried a few nandina (heavenly bamboo) from Costco, which were supposed to grow to 4 feet but have remained for the past two years at 12 inches.

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Anyway, I’ve gone and invested this fall in six boxwoods, above — shade tolerant, deer-resistant, evergreen boxwoods, the little black dress of gardening. The three I bought last fall and put near the road are doing very well, so that’s encouraging.

I’ve got three new 48″ tall ones from Chas. Whitmore in East Hampton and three 36″ from Marder’s in Bridgehampton. I figure they’ll provide screening and also be a nice backdrop for my perennials (astilbes mainly, in that area). I had the larger three delivered, and picked up the smaller ones in my car, not realizing how massively heavy the little balled and burlapped mothers are (they were loaded in for me). But I managed to rassle them out of my car and onto a handtruck without calling a guy neighbor for help.

I’ve been tugging them around to work out the best arrangement. I don’t want to simply line them up in a row — that’s boring. I want a more naturalistic look (as if boxwoods could ever be naturalistic). I’ve been consulting books and magazines and even took The Boxwood Handbook from the library, but there ain’t much info out there on boxwood placement — only on cultivars, and pests and diseases, which I don’t want to think about.

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The folks above, also in East Hampton, have nothing but boxwoods in various sizes. They’ve clearly decided it’s the only practical solution in a deer-ridden neighborhood.

Tomorrow I’m expecting Dong, who helps me with landscaping, and they go in (it was supposed to be today, but…)  I spent yesterday moving stuff out of the way, transplanting ferns and ligularia to give the boxes some breathing room. I’ve settled on a 2 short-3 tall-1 short configuration, left to right, and overlapping each other a bit. I wish they could be as tall, once planted, as they are in their root balls and containers, but they’ll shrink a bit, just like me.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
This entry was posted in GARDENS & GARDENING, HAMPTONS, LANDSCAPING, LONG ISLAND and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Boxwoods to the Rescue

  1. Coppermaven says:

    Are you planning to make yours into an interesting topiary shape?

  2. GAP says:

    LOL! The difference is astonishing! Bravo boxwoods!

  3. cara says:

    Not right away, cop. I’m going to let them be wild and woolly for a while.

  4. mopar says:

    A great question. I have been struggling with how to incorporate holly and boxwood into a mixed border. All my efforts do look unnatural. I like the way you have them arranged in the photo now — not bad. (Of course, I know you’ll have to put more room between them when you plant.)

    Did you see that NYT story a few months ago about the garden in New Jersey that is mostly boxwood? It was gorgeous. Though more formal and Italian-style, so perhaps not relevant here.

    Search Tendenze on the NYT. The garden is located on Pickle Road in New Jersey.

  5. cara says:

    I did see that Times story, Mo, but as you so delicately imply, there’s a fine shade of difference between that estate and my humble cottage. I did find ONE picture in all my gardening books and magazines that showed several clipped box balls in a perennial border (somewhere in Holland), and it looked terrific. I did not, by the way, put more space between them when they were planted. I didn’t want gaps, as my main objective was screening. They can be sheared if they start crowding each other too much. I’m not a fan of holly. The deer keep decimating it, and it needs more sun than I have, so it struggles. I’ve just given away two, so I don’t have to be disappointed in them anymore.

  6. Terry says:

    “how to get that privet to regenerate” are you kidding light the fuse and run.

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