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Architectural evergreen or semi-evergreen container plants to use as a replacement for Box.

Discussion in 'Container Gardening' started by Howard Stone, May 14, 2018.

  1. Howard Stone

    Howard Stone Gardener

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    I'm envisaging a time soon when Box will no longer be a workable proposition in English gardens because of Box Caterpillar, and hence I'm curious about ideas for replacing all those box balls and cones.

    Not necessarily balls or cones, not necessarily small leaved like box, not necessarily even green! What's needed is something that can provide structure and backbone all, or most, of the year, and won't need trimming and clipping too often.

    In my case they'll be in containers -- but they're well fed and watered and I've learned that in these conditions many plants thrive.
     
  2. Verdun

    Verdun Passionate gardener

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    Hiya Howard
    Euonymous Emerald n Gold is a lovely evergreen ....here I clip them as cones or mounds and look good all year round. No pests or disease issues either.
    Pittosporum Tom Thumb too except for its purple foliage.
    Lonicera Baggesons Gold.....unique olive foliage with butter yellow new shoots.
    Diosmas are superb shrubs....heather like, aromatic foliage (nice yellow on Sunset Gold) and attractive white/pink flowers in spring. Thrives on neglect and minimal watering
    If you use ericaceous compost in some of the containers, azaleas, dwarf rhododendrons, camellias, kalmias would do well.
    A lovely variation on common privet is ligustrum aureum......delightful yellow disease resistant shrubs.
    Rosemary will do well in containers......a good blue variety like Mrs Reeds Dark is, to my mind, the best:)
     
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    • Howard Stone

      Howard Stone Gardener

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      Thank you -- I hadn't thought of Diosma

      Are there any suppliers of Mrs Reeds Dark in the UK?
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      Another alternative is sarcococca (Winter box), it can be clipped and is very hardy plus have the bonus of tiny white flowers over the winter with a very powerful fragrance. Only drawback is they are a bit slower growing than buxus, but well looked after and fed in a container they will thrive.
       
    • Howard Stone

      Howard Stone Gardener

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      Anyone had any experience with yew in containers? Or other conifers?

      Or Hebe rakaiensis?
       
      Last edited: May 15, 2018
    • Howard Stone

      Howard Stone Gardener

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      I think this is a nice idea but there's a problem. It may not be possible to buy large specimens, and given it's slow growing it may take a long long time to get to the size where it will have an impact.
       
      Last edited: May 15, 2018
    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      Howard, I will have to check where I bought my rosemary. Yes, it was in the UK. :)

      Sarcoccca is not that slow. Have bushes here that are 5' or more tall and across despite annual pruning.

      Yews should be fine in containers if big enough. Standishii is superb upright variety and there are mounded forms too. And they can be clipped as hard as you like. Cryptomeria globosa nana too ??:)
       
    • Howard Stone

      Howard Stone Gardener

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      What started off like feeling like a major problem (OMG! What am I going to do to replace the buxus?) now feels like an opportunity to have some fun exploring plants again.

      I'm keen to get some more ideas for conifers. I've got an idea in my head of a "plantsman's" garden made up of lots of different species of conifers in containers, tactile and weird shapes and textures and colours.

      Cryptomeria globosa nana sounds like a really workable idea, if it will work in containers here in London. It's cheap, easily available even in large specimens (or so it appears), it is not uninteresting, structural, evergreen . . .
       
    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      Ha ha Howard.....I have a mixed hedge of evergreens to one side of garden that provides all year round interest.
      Yes, have fun with different plants.....tactile stuff is great. Feathery artemisias, "smelly" stuff like lippia citriodora (ok, not evergreen but a lovely thing to have on a path or by the door in summer; I do this too with the pineapple sage, salvia elegans). Another tactile evergreen is the silver grey santolina......trimmed annually to make a rounded dome! Different colours that you could move to suit your palette and different shapes......convolvulous cneorum, for example, has a spectacular silver velvety foliage with pure white flowers. Even evergreen euonymous comes in yellow and green and white and green. Dwarf pieris too as variegated or plain green but all with spectacular red foliage in spring.
      Hey! The options are endless. And fun:snorky:
       
    • Howard Stone

      Howard Stone Gardener

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      Santolina may well look very good in containers, because I bet it will flow over the sides.

      One thing that looks good in containers is Agave, because the leaves tend to mould themselves over the sides. I once saw one in an urn on a pedestal in the muddle of a lawn in a central London square (maybe Eton Square) and it looked tremendous. It's just that I'm a bit scared to try them because the spines may be at eye height.
       
    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      Howard
      Lovely looking things but agaves are mightily dangerous......needle sharp foliage that will take out an eye in a moment of carelessness. Once got one removed from a local garden walk way because it was planted where children associate. Some suggest cutting off the sharp points but then they look awful
      A couple of grasses would give an architectural appearance.......elymus magellanicus has prob the best blue foliage of any plant; check it out. Stipa tennuissima too. For a magnificent cascading, but decidous, effect consider hackonechloa. It mounds, cascades, "moves" and is class personified. I grow these in large containers and in the garden and love 'em
       

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