The front garden before
The front garden after
The hall with balls
We got 18 inches of wet snow today, so it is time to shovel the boxwoods. I have 37 rounded boxwoods in my garden. They are mostly a Sheridan hybrid called Buxus x 'Green Gem'. The Sheridan hybrids were developed at the Sheridan Nursery in Oakville, Ontario. They are a cross of English box, B. sempervirens, which gives them a nice dark green color, and the excellent hardiness of B. var. koreana. They have been quite happy in the exposed areas of my garden which often experience extended periods of -20 degrees F.
I first fell for boxwoods while visiting North Hill, the Readsboro, VT garden of Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd. Near the house and throughout the garden, they planted rounded boxwoods. Sixteen boxwoods add punctuation and provide a repeated rhythm in their rose garden. In 1997, I took a design class at North Hill and Joe and Wayne were talking about the importance of repetition in the garden. I decided to add spherical boxwoods to my garden to provide a unifying presence throughout the property.
In the upper front garden, I copied Bunny Williams' paired rows boxwoods on either side of the pathway. I have under-planted them with Epimedium pinnatum ssp.colchicum. I selected that plant because it is a distinctive but vigorous ground cover with handsome foliage and yellow flowers in May.
I planted 17 boxwoods on the step garden which links the upper garden to the lower garden. I like to call it the Hall with Balls. This time, I under-planted the boxwoods with the lesser known native American pachysandra, Pachysandra procumbens . I wanted to emulate the mass of round shrubs that I had read about in the late Nicole de Vesian's garden in Provence. I felt that garden should not be busy with flowers but should be an area where the visitor would "cleanse their palate" before entering the floriferous lower garden. I have also been working on pruning the Cornus officinalis tree to accentuate the bark and branching pattern of the trunks. Another Provence gardener and land artist, named Marc Nucera, has inspired me to pay closer attention to the pruning the trees as if they were sculpture.
When all the shoveling is done, I find the dark green rounds popping their heads out of the snow quite satisfying. For me, it is a subtle reminder that come summer these rounds will be popping out of foliage textures and flowers.
You might like these two books by Eck and Winterrowd: Our Life in Gardens and A Year at North Hill. Louisa Jones has two books that include the work of Nicole se Vesian and Marc Nucera: The French Country Garden and New Gardens in Provence. By the way, I think Joe Eck has written one of the most concise books on garden design called Elements of Garden Design. It has about 30 4-5 page essays on topics like intention, structure, repose and children in the garden. Each a very quick, enjoyable and informative read.