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Box Balls Pyramids and Lollipops — 53 Comments

  1. I have heard that Box blight has become a big problem in UK. I haven’t got any Box myself, but have been discouraged from buying any because of this. I have however a lovely Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata Robusta’ which is now quite tall and I’d love to get a yew hedge like yours, looks great!
    The Buxus Sempervirens Elegans is gorgeous, is this variety just as susceptible to blight? You sure have lots of nice flowers still, being this late. Take care 🙂

    • Helene, I did hear a while back that this variegated form of Buxus may be less prone to the blight, not confirmed though. We also have Robusta which I particularly like as it seems to retain its narrow form

  2. How clever to have such neat shapes. I have a box hedge too and have, this year, made a silly mistake. I put a terracotta trough in front of it all summer. When I came to sort it for the winter, I found the box behind it had lost its leaves. I suspect, once it has done this, it will have a bald patch for ever so am cross with myself.

      • Thanks, Alistair. I know the bald patch is beause of the planter because it matches it precisely. (And er . . . I have done the same thing, with the same result, in another part of the garden! The trouble with these little hedges is that you can’t cover the problem by letting the hedge get a bit bigger without reducing the width of the path. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  3. Hi Alistair, I do admire your patience with the topiary, it all looks immaculate. How curious that the balls and pyramids escaped the blight, I wonder if it just couldn’t jump the gaps? I think the yew looks rather wonderful, but then I am a big fan of yew. And of that lovely phlox…

    • It is surprising Janet, I was talking to a neighbour yesterday and he was saying that quite a few people in the area have lost their box hedge to blight. Perhaps I am the culprit who set the whole thing off.

  4. Alistair I admire anyone who has the patience to trim hedges….it looks so amazing. And that yew hedge is my favorite…you are quite the rebel or brave experimenter. I think I even prefer it. All your flowers are so beautiful with the colors vibrant and I like the blurred edge effect. To see heathers in Scotland is a treat.

  5. I love boxwoods, and I love yew. However, it is too hot here for most yews (I’ve killed all the different kinds I’ve planted). I absolutely love the hedge, and way you’re keeping them so short. Your white flower carpet rose is beautiful! And I love how you have it surrounded by interesting foliage, and that pop of red!

  6. I am in love with your dwarf aruncus! I must do some research on that plant! I really like the way your garden looks with its wonderful hedges and neatly trimmed hedges, balls and cones. The yew looks terrific. I hope it continues to do well.

  7. Alastair – Those heathers look like their posing for their photo to be taken.

    Every shrub that I’ve pruned grows vertical branches, so it’s not long before ball-shaped turns into U-shaped. Is there a trick to it?

  8. Hi Alistair! I do love topiary,and I have several box cones and balls in my garden. I’d have dozens of them if they were not so pricey.
    My hedge, meanwhile, is not of box, but Ilex crenata (Japanese holly or box-leaved holly). I’ve been told that dogs can’t damage ilex, but will kill box with their pee.
    Anyway, I love the way you use box balls and cones. It makes your garden look very elegant!

  9. Is that Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’? It will grow 2-4 feet high and wide. I have never seen yew kept that short, even the Japanese yew. I will be interested to see how the hedge works out.

    • Hello Donna, its not Repandens which has a very wide growing habit. The Hedge we have is Taxus Baccata common English Yew or European) It doesn’t carry any other name. English Yew can indeed grow very tall but it can be kept short for hedging purposes. As I say it has been in the garden for three years and is looking very promising. However you will have noticed that I have my concerns and I am treating it almost as an experiment, quietly confident though.

  10. I’m impressed with your topiary work Alistair, and your command of the pretty yew hedgelet. I think you are right to let it grow a bit taller, but it is looking well. I’m just learning about trimming boxwood. The rule I heard was to clip it as the forsythia flowers fade in spring and that worked well. I have one enormous box plant, maybe 10 ft tall and just roundish. Do you think I could still push it toward looking like a giant finial?

    • I don’t think Box blight is a problem in your part of the world Linnie, clipping box in early Spring is seldom recommended in the UK. A ten foot tall Box ball would be impressive, I wouldn’t like to trim it though.

  11. Hi Alistair, Your clipped box are wonderful. I particularly like the pair by the back door.
    I must say that I have never seem yew used as a short hedge in this way. It will be interesting to see if it works over the long haul.
    I like the rollover with the plant names. Is that hard to do?

    • Its certainly easy and automatic with wordpress Jennifer. When uploading your named picture from your computer and adding it to your blog post the name comes up in this manner.

  12. Your garden looks great, Alistair!

    I have used yew which has been clipped fairly short before, but not quite as short as your hedge, so I’m really interested to see how it behaves in your garden. It is such a hungry plant, but this doesn’t seem to have made much difference to the plants close to it in your garden. Like Tatyana, I have been toying with Ilex crenata as an option to box.

    I love your Phlox and I was interested to learn that the Chelsea chop had made it so very late to flower.

  13. Thankyou Alistair for the comment you left on my bad post, it was much appreciated. I have just been looking through your garden photo’s, i hope you don’t mind! But they are beautiful you and your wife must have put in so much time and effort to create such a lovely garden. Looking forward to more posts soon. Have a lovely day.

    • Karen, I think we are always pleased when we find out that someone found the time to look through our garden pictures. Thanks for the fave on blotanical a site which is totally responsible for getting my blog noticed. Hope it doesn’t fold.

  14. Hi Alistair, i can see you have a new postprocessing style for your photos, lovely effects. How do you call that 2nd hedge taller than the yew hedge? It looks like our Podocarpus, which is endemic to the northernmost islands of our country always being compared to Scotland or Ireland landscape.

  15. Hey Al! I reckon you’ve been very brave using taxus for a hedge that short but the result is actually very pleasant, I hope it’s not going to overgrow in the coming years! I love your white bench and the French window you have there, sorry for the removed ball, even though I’ve always been more comfortable with two, rather than three…
    I have a soft spot for heathers, yours are beautiful! Unfortunately I can’t have any in my garden because of the soil. And the drought. Oh, and the heat! I strongly envy your clematis, I need to try some in my garden too…

  16. Oh my – so many stunning plants! That aruncus just blew my socks off! The clematis! The kirengeshoma! The heather! (The last do not grow in my area – so sad.) We have not had any box blight here in N. US as far as I know – hope it stays in Scotland! Your remaining boxwoods look wonderful.

  17. You are getting some interesting and artful effects with your photography. I love the heather. Balls & pyramids are not at all popular here in Seattle. It is charming to see them in your garden. Our freakishly dry weather continues. We’ve gone 80+ days without significant rainfall. I tried removing word verification & was inundated with spam comments. I’m sorry to inconvenience you, but I think it’s necessary.

    • Hi Jordan, early Autumn has been so much better than our Summer months when heavy clouds persisted for about three months with little breaks now and again. Its a shame you were having problems after removing word verification. I don’t think I am alone regarding the issues which I have with word verification. I must admit I get a hellish amount of spam, however it is all kept away from my proper comments with the use of akismet, I then just delete them all with one single click.

  18. Making Hedges is quite a feat especially you have to spend a lot of time and dedication in making them stay in the shape you want them.
    I was never successful with them and with a small garden space – it is just not practical.

    Love your 2nd last picture – with roses and the silverly leaf plant and the sprays of flowers.

  19. I was considering growing Box until I read all the reports about box blight. They didn’t mention you as the culprit though. Might consider growing Yew instead now.
    I like the dwarf Aruncus too.

  20. Like most of your commentors, I did not realize you could keep a yew hedge so small. I have started over one hundred box cuttings in prep for my own box hedge, now I am a bit worried about the box blight, although I have not heard of it on this side of the pond. Love how perfect your topiaries look, any tip on getting a perfect circle?

    • Hi Deborah, I don’t think the Box blight is a concern in your part of the world. As for getting the perfect circle on the topiary, well I have to confess I purchased them in this shape. I do get a feeling that it would be quite easy to achieve though.

    • Hi Mark, The Yew hedge had already been in for three years when I published that post. We have been in Cheshire for over two years now so I am not sure how it is. It was giving me good reason to think that it would be easy to keep short.

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