Boxing clever

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Buxus sempervirens may not be the biggest shrub in the business, but it’s a tough little cookie and it can battle it out with the best when the weather is at its worst.

It also makes a smashing, tightly-packed evergreen hedge. Which is why more and more people are planting it. It won’t make a massive, impenetrable barrier, but it will form a hardy, attractive edge to a bed or border and draw a distinctive demarcation line.

It loves the sun but it’s also one of the relatively few plants that is content in shade, in dryish or dampish ground, and never looks to be in a hurry to try to take over. In all, it’s extremely accommodating, attractive and – if you shop around or are willing to grow your own – relatively cheap.

All of the above are good reasons to 
grow it. And so I am doing just that, 
using container-grown plants. Preparation being all important, I dug the ground well, taking out weeds, stones and roots and preparing a decent trench, which was then packed with well-rotted compost. Then I covered it with a weed-suppressing membrane.

Now it was time to plant. For a Box hedge to be effective, individual plants need to be packed together. Thus I used one perfectly-proportioned little plantlet (10in high or thereabouts) every 9in, cutting a cross in the membrane and then popping the roots through into the compost-filled trench below. Press down firmly and move on to the next plant in the line.

When all were in their new home, I watered them well, stood back to admire my work and then had a cup of tea and the compulsory digestive biscuit.

The Box hedge can be left to get on with establishing itself, each plant burying its roots into the nutritious soil. Come May or perhaps even June, I’ll pay them another visit, this time armed with sharp secateurs, and give them a very gentle, tidying trim.

They shouldn’t need watering again (that membrane keeps the moisture where it’s needed) and they shouldn’t need trimming again until the end of the year. Box isn’t the fastest-growing plant, but, hopefully, in a couple of years the hedge will be a formidable 18in tall. Ideal for purpose.