I always look for new ideas and applications of materials while traveling. Observation, sketching, and copious photographs while traveling should be obligatory for any designer at all times but especially while traveling; who knows when you will be able to get back to have a look at a brickwork detail or new use of a material. I took this first picture in Milan in front of the Armani cafe (who else to look to for design ideas than Giorgio). I had seen really low and tight boxwood massing used by Russell Page and once I saw it here I knew I had to put it to use. It is now an application that I use often. It is akin to using the boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) as a groundcover. It is perfect when you want evergreen structure and formality in a design without compromising or hiding the architecture. It is almost liking creating a pediment to frame the architecture. I use bare root liners that I purchase from a wholesale nursery but boxwood cuttings are extremely easy to propagate and this could be accomplished by a homeowner as a great experiment in propagation. I find it works best if you let the plants root and establish for at least a year before pruning.
This was taken as we were still installing the liners two years ago.
This is two years after the installation. The bottom still has a little bit of filling in to do but my intention is to keep this clipped very tightly.
Boxwood Psyllid is a very frustrating and common pest of all cultivars of Boxwood. While there are many things that cause more severe damage the appearance of the cupped leaves caused by the Psyllid drives me crazy. American Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens is the most susceptible. Psyllid over-winters as a tiny, orange egg that has been deposited in the bud scales. In Spring the eggs hatch when the buds of the Boxwood open up and the nymphs begin to feed right away. By early June you will start to see the winged adults hovering over your plants. During the summer, after mating is when the eggs are actually deposited into the leaves between the bud scales.
The nymph stage is what damages the host plant by feeding on newly developing foliage, causing the leaves to become cupped. This cupping conceals the psyllid, and provides protection while feeding. Damage to the host plant is purely aesthetic. Treatment should take place now to catch the nymphs before the start to feed. Talk to your local extension agent about what you should treat with. I have had great succes with Talstar.
Now is a great time for you to think about trimming your Boxwood and Taxus. With Boxwood just starting to push out there spring flush of growth trimming the new growth can be trimmed before it hardens off or allowed to flush out to fill in. Either way the trimming done now will be mostly covered up by the foliage that flushes out now. Now is also a good time to go ahead and get an application of fertilizer down. I like to use Espoma’s Holly Tone.
One of the biggest problems I see is from incorrect pruning. Most people tend to trim the sides straight up and down. This allows the top of the plant to shade out the bottom and prevent in from being able to photosynthesize and produce growth. We have all seen (Taxus especially) plants that look like a globe on a stick because of this. When you trim the sides of a hedge or any evergreens for that matter you want to make sure that you trim at a slight angle. This makes sure the bottome of the plant gets enough sun to stay full and healthy.
In the drawing below you can see how the pruning should look in section. The photograph shows the proper angle to hold your shears at while trimming. If you have any questions please let me know.