If Lavender, large or small, is the quintessential English edging plant, ever-willing to make a statement, then Box is surely the essential hedging plant – quietly, but brilliantly, getting on with its job…
And what do we mean by essential? Well, for a start, Box is neater than Privet, grows a little faster than Yew, is as forgiving as both and more versatile than either. It is as happy in a small container as it is in the ground, where it can be left, if you wish, to reach the full potential of its grandeur. It is the specialist plant for so many different requirements.
Box was featured in many of the Gold Medal winning show gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and a quick look at the index of the RHS book published in 2010 to celebrate its centenary reveals that Box is the most frequently mentioned hedging plant. The book is a fascinating read and charts the changing fashions in garden design and Box features throughout. The book, though, doesn’t explain how a garden from the beginning of this century can look more dated than one from the middle of the last.
Box is the backbone of many gardens – hedging, edging, specimens in the ground or containers, trimmed simply or clipped in elaborate topiary. Box’s virtues have been appreciated for centuries and in the next two posts we’ll look at examples of Box at its finest.