Article by Deborah Silver (Deborah Silver & Co.)
The day the evergreens get pruned at the shop is one of my favorite days in the gardening year. Mindy from M and M Flowers comes with a crew; they make a day of it. The first order of business is the discussion. Are we pruning as usual? Is there perhaps a new shape or different direction in mind?
Making changes to the shape of a boxwood hedge- even an established hedge- is not difficult or impossible. It just takes time. The spheres at the corners of the parterres have not grown in evenly all around. The west side spheres get more water, as the land drains in that direction. The east side spheres are planted in what was once asphalt, and they are shaded by the lindens.
The spheres to the east also suffered a considerable fungal infection that has been very difficult to cure. Simply put, the conditions for the 4 spheres are not at all equal. One pair is much larger and more robust than the other. So there was discussion about a moving towards a different shape at all 4 corners.
The corner spheres could be trimmed as follows. The bottom of the shrub could be brought into line with the existing rectangular hedge. The top of the shrub could be pruned as a top-knot, or a smaller sphere that would appear to sit on top of the hedge. This pruning would take a few years to accomplish, as it means pruning down to old wood. There would be bare spots that would need to grow in.
We have some time to think this over. Though I like to wait until the spring growth is fully flushed out before any pruning is done, pruning back to bare wood as the heat of the summer season is imminent is a recipe for burn. Boxwood grows out of winter burn fairly readily, but summer burn is an unsightly state of affairs that persists.
I am not so sure that it bothers me that the spheres do not match. Perfection is a state that does not really apply to living things. We may just stay the course. But there is always the option to change course in a landscape. That just takes planning, and patience.
This hedge has been grown from the species buxus koreana microphylla. It is a big growing boxwood. The hedge has been maintained at a height of 32″ and a width of 48″ for a number of years. Grown in full sun, it readily handles the winter wind and cold weather. The only danger posed by the winter is when we have heavy snow, the weight of which can crack the woody branches. Those cracks make the shrub more susceptible to fungal infections. It’s not always easy to decide whether to remove the snow, or let it be. Disturbing branches when they are frozen can produce more damage than the snow itself.
Korean boxwood does have a pronounced orangy cast in the winter, a characteristic that is not to everyone’s taste. Our most important issue is tending a hedge that is in good proportion to the size of the building. If that large overall size were not so important, “Green Velvet” boxwood maintains its green color all winter, and matures at 3′ by 3′. “Green Mountain” boxwood is virtually indistinguishable from Green Velevet, but matures at 4′ tall, and 3′ wide. “Green Gem” is a good choice, if a more refined leaf and smaller mature size is what your garden needs.
We lost 2 boxwood in the hedge over this past winter. We did have one replacement available. In this spot, we went another direction. We stitched the hedge back together, with a pair of potted boxwoods.
The pruning makes a world of difference in the appearance of this garden. I am enjoying that change thoroughly. If you have a boxwood hedge or specimen boxwood plants that ask for a precision pruning, I highly recommend M and M Flowers. Their work is superb. 248 340 0796.
By coincidence, Melissa from M and M Flowers came to do her yearly pruning on the boxwood on the last day of my 61st year. As this is just about my favorite day of the gardening year, I felt my previous year was coming to a close in a way that made me very happy indeed.
My garden is a place very near and dear to me-it looked beautiful last night. Spotless. As is her usual way, the boxwood is beautifully pruned. Her crew did not finish until almost 7 pm. All my thanks, Melissa and group.
Mindy from M and M Flowers sends a crew every year in late June to prune the boxwood garden in front of the shop. Pruning day is a really big deal; I make sure the spring growth is totally flushed out before I ask her to prune. This is a big job that takes a lot of planning and thought. If you prune your boxwood too early, you may be faced with the prospect of pruning it again.
I like the spring flush of boxwood growth to be done, and hardening off-prior to the music of the shears. I so have patience for this part of my landscape maintenance. Once a year-the pruning of the boxwood. The boxwood cue me-I do not cue them. The steel poles driven into the ground, and the carefully drawn level lines are a sure sign of a formal pruning event to come.
Mindy’s crew prunes my boxwood with hand shears. Corona is by no means a designer tool company. They make reasonally priced and well engineered tools. My point here? Pruning boxwood is not about a tool. It is about an experienced eye, and a willing and patient pair of hands. Gorgeous pruning has everything to do with that individual who is willing to clip clip clip-with a sharp tool, for hours on end.
Techny arborvitae grow so so slow-it should have been named Arborvitae The Snail. My short pair of techny arborvitae hedges enclosing the shop property-every bit of 13 years old. They are just now coming into their own.
The boxwood in the front of the shop suffered terribly, given several winters with incredibly heavy snow loads. We are on year two of a treatment for a rare fungal infection from hell. The boxwood are being trimmed a shade looser this year. Every move in a landscape asks for some thought. Some spot on, current and relevant thought can make for a great garden.
It could be my most favorite day of the gardening year has nothing to do with me. In early summer every year, Melissa comes to prune, weed, and otherwise do whatever my garden needs to look great. She and her sister Mindy run a business-M and M Flowers. Their company ought to be named M and M Landscape Management. These two women do a lot more than plant flowers. Their idea of landscape maintenance is within a stone’s throw of perfection. They are expert in plant care. They can spot a problem instantly-whether it be a tree, a flowering shrub, or a boxwood. They can replace, renovate, or add to just about anything in a garden.
The level at which they are able to prune and otherwise maintain a woody landscape is unsurpassed-truly. They are a gifted and utterly professional pair supported by well trained and efficient crews. The day they come to trim my landscape-my most favorite day of the gardening year.
Their formal pruning begins and ends with the horizon. They drive stakes into the ground, and run lines utterly level. Completely and unequivocably level. My landscape is criss-crossed with level lines before any cutting takes place. My job is to get all of my boxwood to grow as best I can. The day Melissa comes to trim, I know I will see the results of my work, growing. Boxwood and yew hedges take years to grow into a shape. For this, I have patience.
Eight hours later, the 6 of them are gone. The yard is spotless. For one day every year, I have no weeds. The boxwood and Hicks yews speak to a geometry close to my heart. The densiformis yews are loosely pruned, and look lush.
Though my front yard slopes down to the sidewalk, the boxwood are absolutely level with the horizon. I cannot really explain why these precisely rendered shapes opposed to a natural slope are so dear to me. Everyone has their own personal and specific idea of beauty-this is mine.
The sidewalk level boxwood has been in two years. They are just beginning to represent an idea about a change of level. You can see in this photograph that the upper level of boxwood is precisely shaped. The lower level needs another year or two to catch up. That pruning is soft, as the growth is not there yet. I have little patience for most things. But for a landscape growing, I have nothing but patience.
Early this Sunday morning I was busy looking, and taking pictures. Saturday after work I walked everywhere, but was too tired to photograph. Were the work of doing this maintenance and pruning to fall to me, my landscape would never look like this. Melissa is much better at this than I. Better yet, she comes to shovel me out and get my landscape in shape at the end of my grueling spring season. She puts enormous energy and time to my property when I am just about spent.
Needless to say, my tour this morning delighted me. My work is completely focused on all of my clients-via the landscape company, and the shop. I have an idea to provide anyone who approaches me with a gardening experience that is beautiful, and successful. This is hard work, and rewarding work. The past six weeks have been work at an incredibly intense level. This Sunday morning, my place looked beautiful. Thanks, Melissa.
My rose garden is not anything that would rate a picture in a book, but it pleases me plenty. The space is really all about boxwood hedges, and Thuja Nigra. Melissa deadheaded the roses, put the climbing rose arms blown down by wind back up on the wall, and weeded the gravel. She staked the roses. She trimmed the curves in the arborvitae, and properly trimmed the boxwood. My take on my visit this morning? I do so hope heaven looks exactly like this.
This view is much more about an answer to my very busy life, than a statement about formal landscapes. This serene view satisfies what I need from my garden. What you need from your landscape-this is the first question.