I like BIG BOXWOODS and I cannot lie, you other designers might deny. . .
Well it’s the truth! All landscape designers like boxwood but few will own up to it. My love affair with boxwoods began when I moved to Kansas City, where almost every neighborhood is either deer infested or full shade. I do not use boxwood because they are super beautiful or offer some unique trait but because they are the most versatile plant I know of. Sun, shade, formal, loose, dry, wet, deer resistant, evergreen, the list goes on and on.
I hear some of you saying “Boxwoods are over used!” and they probably are to a certain extent. My friends at the nursery are begging me to spec something else to substitute the classic boxwood. I've tried, but globe arborvitae or 'Densii' yews or holly just are not the same I say!
Did you know that there is a Boxwood Society for people who are crazy about the genus Buxus?
Their website says that Boxwood is "Man's Oldest Garden Ornamental," and was introduced to North America from Europe in the mid-1600s and reached its peak popularity in the United States during the early 19th century. While the most familiar forms are what are commonly referred to as "American" (Buxus sempervirens) and "English" (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa') boxwood, there are about 90 species and over 365 different cultivars known exhibiting a wide variety of forms and foliage. Wow, that’s a lot of options.
If you want to learn more about the varieties of boxwood. Check out the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MObot) Plant Finder. They are currently featuring 40 varieties on their website. Not all of these varieties are regularly sold in local commerce.
Most nurseries are carrying varieties like:
There are also some upright varieties:
There are probably a thousand different ways to use the hundreds of boxwood types. Here are a sampling of the various boxwood looks I've captures around the Kansas City area.
Hopefully, these examples can help people realize the range of uses for boxwood and the different styles of each species. I will always, always stand by the principal “Right plant for the right place”. That’s the reason you hire a professional landscape designer with a degree in horticulture who really, truly understands the science behind the plants. They should be able to choose the a good option for your needs regarding maintenance levels, sun exposure, watering concerns, soil requirements, mature size concerns, etc.
Some of my clients have expressed a dislike for boxwood because of their perceived high maintenance or slow growth or winter burn. But I’m here to tell you, “Not every shrubs must be sheared into a meatball or box every month”. You can let your burning bush, yews, ninebarks and boxwoods breathe and be left to grow naturally.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to design! You can even do this if you want to!!!