Fresh ways to use a favorite hedge plant

Boxwood has a mixed reputation in the gardening world ― a bit too formal for some gardeners, obliging and versatile to others. “It’s a great structural element to play off looser plants,” says landscape designer Freeland Tanner of Yountville, California. Like other garden designers these days, Tanner is finding fresh ways to use boxwood; his globes are pictured at right.

Various types of boxwood lend themselves to different uses. Columnar kinds of English boxwood like Buxus sempervirens ‘Monrue’ are good for tall hedges and topiaries. Dwarf kinds of Japanese boxwood like ‘Morris Midget’ form hedges only 1 foot high.

Boxwood can take sun or shade (afternoon shade to full shade in hot climates). All prefer well-drained soil. Water regularly and apply a complete fertilizer once a month.