Informal boxwoods?

tadhg555August 21, 2013

We are considering adding boxwoods to our back garden; however, we don't want a formal look. Rather, we'd like the boxwoods to stay more "natural," and in keeping with the rest of the yard that has a more meadowy feel (coneflowers, irises, etc., etc.).

In my previous experience with boxwoods I've always seen them very manicured, so I wonder if anyone can share their experience of leaving the plant to its own devices. Pictures would be awesome, too.

Thanks.

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agardenstateof_mind

If you're looking for something with a more "meadowy" feel, why not research plants that are native to your region that might be found growing at woods' edge. Since they're native, they should be well suited to your local environmental conditions, require minimal maintenance, and provide a "sense of place", all while supporting beneficia wildlife like songbirds, butterflies, honeybees & native bees and other pollinators & beneficial insects (which, by the way, will enjoy those coneflowers, especially if you leave the seed heads on for the goldfinches). Boxwoods are prone to some pest problems so are likely to require some maintenance.

You don't say where you are, how much width and height you are looking for, what environmental conditions are (sun or shade, heat, cold, soil type, moisture levels, wind conditions, salt conditions, etc.) whether you want evergreen or not, so I can't help you any more than that.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 11:28PM
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gardengal48

Of course boxwoods can be informal - just don't shear/manicure them!!

Shrubs will have an inherent growth habit - rounded or mounded, loose and arching, open, leggy, tree-like, caning/multi-stemmed, etc. It is just a matter of researching the plant you like and seeing if its growth habit fits what you are looking for (as well as its appropriateness to the location).

Unsheared boxwood looks like this:

But you are certainly not restricted to only boxwoods. Depending on your location, Japanese holly (Ilex crenata), spreading yews or sweet box (Sarcococca) could work equally as well. And then there are scores of deciduous shrubs you could use.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 4:17PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

The big advantages of box are that it is evergreen and apparently unpalatable to deer. It's a rare combination.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 4:46PM
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tadhg555

Thanks for the helpful responses.

We're in the California Bay Area. Most of the plantings we're looking at are drought tolerant, but we have one small area set aside for my wife to create her "Vermont meadow" idyll (with drip irrigation).

The boxwood was suggested to add some structure to a transitional area between deck and retaining wall.

I like the fact that it's evergreen. I'll also look up those other options.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 5:14PM
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