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.