Woolly Aphid on Box

Between Spring and Early Summer little white, fluffy looking dots may start appearing on box hedging and topiary. These are woolly aphids, a small sap sucking insect feeding on the soft stems of box. Woolly aphids are actually black aphids who cover themselves in white, waxy secretions for protection. Infestations are rarely bad enough to cause any lasting damage to the box so rather than using chemicals, I prefer to brush the aphids off with a stiff brush. Another way to control woolly aphids is to encourage their natural predators into the garden. Ladybirds, lacewings and hoverfly larvae are excellent…

Trimming on Top of a Water Rill

I’m often faced with many challenges when trimming but this is the first time I’ve had to work with a water rill. It’s part of a stunning design that I’ve really enjoyed trimming and shaping over the last couple of weeks. Thankfully the water rill is easily drained to enable essential maintenance work. I also use boards to cover the empty water channel. A wise idea because I can become very focused on my trimming and don’t want to risk breaking a leg by stepping backwards into a rill. The trimmed box leaves are easily sucked up directly from the…

Improve the Health of Box Topiary and Hedging with Regular Mulching

Spring is the perfect time to mulch underneath box hedging and topiary. Mulching is an excellent way to improve the health of box and encourage thicker, bushier growth. Buxus sempervirens has a very shallow, wide-spreading root system. Soil around the base of box will be disturbed and removed overtime by weeding, watering and Winter weather conditions. This may leave the root system exposed and at risk of drying out, which will affect the health of the box. A regular application of mulch every Spring is a good way to protect the roots and help retain moisture in the soil during…

Simple Plastic Bag Test to Diagnose Box Blight

Correct diagnosis of box blight is important in order to know how to respond to this potentially devastating disease. Box blight can be treated with a combination of fungicides and improvements in gardening practices if diagnosed quickly before the infection has spread. Symptoms of box blight include browning of the leaves and patches of defoliation. Black streaks maybe visible on the stems and small white spores on the underside of the leaves. Discoloration of box leaves and defoliation could also be the result of nutrient deficiency. This is why a correct diagnosis is important as the box plants may just…

Box and Yew Topiary in a Beautifully Designed London Garden

This year I enjoyed trimming and shaping box balls, box domes, cloud pruned ilex crenata and yew squares in a lovey, urban garden in Notting Hill, London. The garden was cleverly designed by Butter Wakefield, to make the most of a small, lightly shaded space. Overhanging trees and a stunning multi stem Betula nigra (River Birch) create wonderful dappled light under which the topiary thrives. I also shaped the Viburnum tinus hedging at the end of the garden with curves and undulations to create a simple cloud pruned design that links the space with communal gardens beyond. Herbaceous perennials and…