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Common Box, or as professionals say Buxus Sempervirens, is a good evergreen plant, most often used for hedging or topiary.
As I live on a corner of a street, I have a lot of boundary to look after. I have used Common Box as hedging for my front garden and am very pleased I did. In the long term I have found it more robust and less expensive than maintaining the wooden fence that I used to have.
Before my front garden fence disintegrated with age, I planted some small Box plants. I bought as many as I could afford, and as they grew, took cuttings from them to make extra plants. I am not an expert gardener but found growing them from cuttings easy. It is best planted in autumn or spring, 30 to 40cms (12 to 18 inches) apart. As with most young plants, it is very important that the soil is not allowed to dry out.
You do have to be patient, especially if you are using small plants, as Box is slow growing, but that is the reason I prefer it to the other plant often used for hedging Privet. Privet will grow quickly, which may initially be good, but once mature, needs clipping back often to keep it neat. Box grows slowly, but once it reaches the desired height, only needs clipping once a year to maintain it at that level.
I took away my old fence 3 years after planting the young Box hedge, which by then no longer needed its protection. Parts of my hedge are in almost constant shade and parts have the morning sun on them. All parts are now mature and healthy.
If left unchecked each plant can grow to 5m x 5m (16ft x 16ft), however, I keep my front garden hedge at just over a metre (about 4 foot) high by using my electric hedge trimmer on it just once a year. To encourage hedges to thicken, this is best done about May time.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Box as a hardy evergreen hedging and topiary plant.
I have always admired the knot gardens which are frequently illustrated in gardening books, but didn't think I had the space in my small garden for one. However, after having had a chimney dismantled, I was left with a huge amount of very old bricks. I knew these were frequently sought out in reclamation yards, so was rather reluctant to dispose of them. After some consideration I decided to have a small circular patio built at the far end of my garden. Unfortunately however, I was rather timid in deciding the proportions of this patio and once it was finished it looked rather on the small side. It was then that I decided here was the opportunity to use Box edging.It wasn't quite the knot garden I had always admired, but planting this edging around the patio improved its scale and enclosed it in a very attractive manner. Box is however, rather expensive to buy in garden centres and I was reluctant to spend the £8/10 per plant which seemed to be the norm where-ever I went, especially as I knew I would need in the region of at least 20 or so plants. Luckily Asda saved the day. I know that all you experienced gardeners will probably groan at this, but the supermarkets do occasionally have very good offers on plants. Asda were selling Box for £2.99 per plant, which was obviously a great saving to me. The secret in buying from supermarkets seems to be to buy the plants when they are initially on offer. You do have to watch out that they haven't been on sale for some time without ever being watered. I feel very sad when I see what should be perfectly healthy plants almost dead in supermarkets through sheer neglect and lack of water. Anyway, back to the Box (so to speak). My particular plants have thrived considerably since first planting and a kind colleague informed me that they are remarkably easy to propogate. Box needs clipping I believe twice a year to keep it bushy and in shape. These clippings merely have to
be inserted in the soil and 9 times out of 10 will take off, giving you even more plants for your garden. I now have so many plants I am running out of space. Obviously it will take time for these clippings to be bushy specimens as Box is rather slow growing, but when you think of the saving, it is well worth the effort taken. A knot garden isn't meant to be particularly high anyway so this plant is ideal (incidentally it also looks extremely attractive dividing vegetables or herbs). I intend to put some of my Box plants in pots now and have a try a topiary. The price of Box topiary in garden centres is astronomical so hopefully I will have saved a bomb there too. I even intend to place some by my front door. Box seems to grow in almost any sort of soil and requires little attention. It is similar to, but not as vigorous as privet and in addition does not rob the soil of its nutrients in the same way privet does. It can be used as an edging plant in much the same way bedding plants are used and gives a formal look to areas of the garden. As it is an evergreen it gives interest all year round. I would recommend Box to any gardener, whether they like a cottage garden, a patio garden a formal garden or even a wild garden. There is always room for a small formal plot and Box can be used to separate the different compartments of the garden. Don't pay astronomical prices for it though, look out for it being sold cheaply in supermarkets....ie., BOX CLEVER!