Ode to the boxwood

Posted by on October 23, 2014

Boxwood hedge


Update 2-28-2016

On a recent trip Garden Supply, I found Buxus sempervirens ‘Aurea-Pendula’. I saw it there about three weeks ago, but there was no price and it had a yellow tag. I stopped by every week to see if it was still there. So when Julian and I went plant shopping for Fearrington Village, I asked. They said if it didn’t have a name on it was, it was up for grabs.

Update 11-2-2016

I had the honor of traveling to Piney River, VA this morning to meet with Paul Westervelt for a private tour of Saunders Brothers Nursery. As a boxwood collector, Saunders Brothers did me the great honor of a tour and to purchase a few for my collection. I bought some duplicates and some that have been on my wish list.

More on this later, but once I learned about their sanitary practices to keep out diseases, I’m not sure I can buy from anyone but Sanders. In our area, Garden Supply carries their boxwood.

Today’s take:

Buxus harlandii ‘Richard’

B. microphylla ‘Golden Dream’

B. microphylla ‘Grace H. Phillips’

B. microphylla ‘Green Pillow’

B. microphylla var sinensis ‘Franklin’s Gem’

B. microphylla var japonica ‘Green Beauty’

B. microphylla var japonica ‘Morris Dwarf’

B. microphylla var japonica ‘Morris Midget’

B. sempervirens ‘Jensen’

B. sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’

B. sempervirens ‘Vardar Valley’

B. sinensis var. insularis ‘Justin Brouwers’

B x ‘Green Mound’


Updated 6-12-2016

After scouting a project in Pinehurst, I stopped by Big Bloomers. Surprisingly, I found a little cute box that wasn’t even on my radar: Buxus sempervirens ‘Mount Bruno’

Updated 5-21-2015

On a fabulous trip with my bestie, Beth, visiting private gardens and garden centers. I found ‘Nana’ and ‘Tall Boy at Village Garden Center in Fisherville, VA.

Updated 5-6-2015

My friend, LaJuna Dunn, brought be a box from the Living History Collection®. My first of its kinds. This Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ grown from cuttings from Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown home. It was here that Henry wrote his give me liberty, give me death speech.

Updated 4-18-2105

I headed to VA with Beth and Barbara to speak at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Along the way, we stopped by one of our faves,  Great Big Greenhouse near Richmond, VA. Here, I found B. sinica var. insularis ‘Justin Brouwers’.

 Updated 4-16-2015

On a recent trip to Garden Supply in Apex, NC, I found three more for my collections:

B. microphylia var. japonica ‘Gregem’

Updated 10-23-2015

Ordered from Woodlanders. Buxus balearica.


Updated 4-4-2015

One of my biggest frustrations in building this boxwood collection is the inconsistency of the correct botanical Latin names. At first I used the name provided by the nursery where the boxwood was purchased. Later, I found when I was trying to acquire a new box for my collection, I found inconsistencies–major ones in opinion–such as B. sempervirens vs. B. macrophylla. The errors when in both directions. I just finished reading the authoritative bookcover_handbook by Lynn R. Batdorf, Curator of the National Boxwood Collection at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. for 30 years and for the past 20 years, served as the International Cultivar Registration Authority for Buxus L. No judgement here; I’m just making the corrections, were needed, on my collection list.


Updated 4-2-1-2015

Buxus microphylla collection

Found two more variegated box at Logan’s Trading Center: ‘Wedding Ring’ and ‘Golden Trumpet’ Asked Beth to pick me up another at the JCRA plant sale, since I won’t be in town: B. microphylla var. riparia, Japanese boxwood.

Updated 3-20-2015

Updated my want list after reading “A Tabulation of Boxwood Offerings” by Lynn R. Batdorf, curator of the National Boxwood Collection at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.

Updated 3-16-2014

My bestie was heading to visit Appledoorn Landscape Nursery Saturday and noticed they had a lot of Buxus spp. on the availability list.  She asked if I wanted any picked up. Yes, of course I do!!!! I’ve updated the list below.

Worried about boxwood blight?

Updated 3-11-2014

Here’s some great information from the American Boxwood Society.

Update 12-21-2014

I’ve moved the boxwood collection to the back covered porch. I can appreciate them more there. Plus, I was able to decorate for Christmas.

Helen's Haven box collection

Here is the growing box collection at Helen’s Haven:



Patrick Henry's Scotch town collectionPatrick Henry’s Scotchtown home – This Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ grown from cuttings from where Henry wrote his give me liberty, give me death speech.



B. microphylla ‘Compacta’ also known as ‘Kingsville Dwarf’ — Arch Trees. 

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Green Beauty’ — Saunders Brothers Details

B. microphylla ‘Golden Dream’ — Garden Supply Center, Apex, NC Details
B. microphylla ‘Golden Dream’ — Saunders Brothers
B. microphylla ‘Golden Dream’ — Saunders Brothers

B. microphylla ‘Golden Triumph’ — Logan’s Trading Center Missing or not labled

B. microphylla Grace Hendrick Phillips’ — Garden Supply Details
B. microphylla ‘Grace Hendrick Phillips’ –– Saunders Brothers

B. microphylla ‘Grebor’ — Macon Gardens

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Jim Stauffer’ — Appledoorn Details

B. microphylla ‘John Baldwin’ Details

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’ — Appledorn Details.
B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’ — Saunders Brothers

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Dwarf’ — Village Garden Center Details
B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Dwarf’ –– Saunders Brothers

B. microphylla var. japonica  ‘Winter Gem’ I needed a bunch of these so picked them up at one of my wholesalers.





B. sempervirens American Box — Garden Supply Details

B. sempervirens ‘Dee Runk’ — This one came from Don Ledford from the NC State Farmers Market. Details

B. sempervirans ‘Elegantissima’ —  John Monroe at Architectural Trees. Details
B. sempervirans ‘Elegantissima’ — Saunders Brothers

B. sempervirens ‘Fastigiata’ — Appledorn Details

B. sempervirens ‘Green Pillow’ — Appledoorn Details
B. sempervirens ‘Green Pillow’ — Saunders Brothers

B. sempervirens ‘Graham Blandy’ — Arch Trees. Details    

B. sempervirens ‘Jensen’ — Saunders Brothers Details

Buxus sempervirens ‘Mount Bruno’–Big Bloomers Details This was a one off from Big Bloomers, I think. I believe it was part of a booth purchase they made from the Green and Growin show in Greensboro.

B. sempervirens ‘Pyamidalis’ –– Nancy Goodwin at Montrose. Details

B. sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ — Removed from a client’s garden when she thought it wasn’t a perfect shape. Details                                                                   

B. Sempervirens ‘Undulifolia’ commonly known as ‘Unraveled’ —  JC Raulston Arboretum connoisseur plant giveaway. This one is just a propagated stick. My friend, Beth Jimenez of Lasting Impressions, had a big one she was removing. She had two, and asked if I wanted it. I said YES! Details    ‘Unraveled’ Inventory, Yucca Do Nursery,

B. sempervirens ‘Valentine’ — JC Raulston Arboretum connoisseur plant giveaway. Details

B. sempervirens ‘Vardar Valley’ — Garden Supply Details
B. sempervirens
‘Vardar Valley ‘– Saunders Brothers

B. sempervirens ‘Rotundifolia’ –– Appledoorn — this is my new favorite.  Details


Buxus crosses

B. sinica var.  insularis ‘Filigree’ aka ‘Franklin’s Gem’ — Appledoorn Details

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Filigree’ aka ‘Franklin’s Gem’ — Saunders Brothers

B. sinica ‘We Willie’ — I found this one on a miniature conifer table on my way to the checkout counter at Atlantic Avenue.

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Nana’ — Village Garden Center Details

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Justin Brouwers’ — Found at the Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond, VA. Details

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Justin Brouwers’ — Saunders Brothers

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Staygreen’ aka ‘Sunburst’ — JC Raulston Arboretum connoisseur plant giveaway. Details

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Tall Boy’

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Tide Hill’ — Appledoorn Details

B.  sinica var. insularis ‘Wintergreen’ — Details



B. x ‘Green Mound’ Saunders Brothers Details

B. x ‘Green Mountain’ — Atlantic Avenue Garden Center. Details

B. ‘Green Velvet’ — Appledoorn Details                                                                  

B. x conroe (Gordo) — JC Raulston Arboretum connoisseur plant giveaway.

B. harlandii   Arch Trees
B. harlandii ‘Richard’ Saunders Brothers Details

Buxus balearica –Woodlanders

What’s next?

Next on my list to collect are the following boxwood. If you have a cuttings you want to share with me, please send me an email. I would be HONORED!! And if you can recommend others, please do!


Hoping to get my hands on these:

B. ‘Bailey’

B. henryi

B. ‘Garrisoni’

B. ‘Goddard College’

B. North Star™

B. ‘Willowwood’

B. ‘Antzam’ Antarctica™

B. ‘Wilson’

B. bodinieri



B.  xGlencoe’ (Chicagoland Green) – Saunders Brothers Details

B. x ‘Green Gem’ – Saunders Brothers Details

B. x ‘Sanders Dwarf’ ? – Saunders Brothers

B. ‘Compacta’

 B. ‘Green Ice’


B. microphylla

B. microphylla ‘Bert Chandler’

B. microphylla ‘Helen Whiting’

B. microphylla ‘Rococco’


B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Belvedere’

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Faulkner’

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Green Jade’

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Green Prince’

B. microphyllaJulia Jane

B. microphylla ‘Northern Emerald’

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Sunnyside’

B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Trompenburg’B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Wintergreen’–  Saunders Brothers Details


B. microphylla var.  koreana ‘Escles’ ™




B. sinica var.  insularis ‘Green Gem’



B. sempervirens ‘Alyce’

B. sempervirens ‘Anderson’

B. sempervirens ‘Appalachian Pyramid’

B. sempervirensArabeske’

B. sempervirens ‘Angustifolia’

B. sempervirensArgenteo-variegata’

B. sempervirens ‘Agram’

B. sempervirens ‘Arborescens’

B. sempervirens ‘Argentea’

B. sempervirens ‘Asheville’


B. sempervirens ‘Bentley Blue’

B. sempervirens ‘Bullata’

B. sempervirens ‘Blauer Heinz’

B. sempervirens ‘Broman’

B. sempervirens ‘Clembrook’


B. sempervirens ‘Denmark’

B. sempervirens ‘David’s Gold’


B. sempervirens ‘Elizabeth H. Inglis’ – Saunders Brothers Details

B. sempervirens ‘Edgar Anderson’


B. sempervirens ‘Fiesta’

B. sempervirens ‘Fleur de Lys’


B. sempervirens ‘Glauca’

B. sempervirens ‘Grand Rapids’

B. sempervirens ‘Green Tower’


B. sempervirens ‘Haller’

B. sempervirens ‘Harry Logan’

B. sempervirens ‘Hollandia’

B. sempervirens ‘Handsworthiensis’

B. sempervirens ‘Handsworthii’

B. sempervirens ‘Henry Shaw’

B. sempervirens ‘Hermann von Schrenk’

B. sempervirens ‘Herrenhausen’


B. sempervirens ‘Jack Randolph’. Located at Camellia Forest in Chapel Hill. Need to go pick up.

B. sempervirens ‘Joe Gable’


B. sempervirens ‘Latifolia Macrophylla’

B. sempervirens ‘Latifolia Maculata’

B. sempervirens ‘Latifolia’

B. sempervirens ‘Lawson’s Golden’

B. sempervirens ‘Liberty’

B. sempervirens ‘Lace’

B. sempervirens ‘Langley Beauty’


B. sempervirens ‘Marginata’

B. sempervirens ‘Maryland’

B. sempervirens ‘Memorial’ 

B. sempervirens ‘Meyers’

B. sempervirensMyrtifolia’

B. sempervirens ‘Myosotidifolia’


B. sempervirens ‘Nela Park’

B. sempervirens ‘Nish’

B. sempervirens ‘Notata’


B. sempervirens ‘Ohio’


B. sempervirens ‘Pioneer’

 B. sempervirens ‘Pendula’

B. sempervirens ‘Parasol’

B. sempervirens ‘Ponteyi’

B. sempervirens ‘Pride of Rochester’

B. sempervirens ‘Pyramidalis Hardwickensis’

B. sempervirens ‘Paramus’

B. sempervirens ‘Prostrata’

B. sempervirens ‘Pullman’


B. sempervirens ‘Ruth Randolph’. Located at Camellia Forest in Chapel Hill. Need to go pick up.

B. sempervirens ‘Rungeana’

B. sempervirens ‘Rosmarinifolia’


B. sempervirens ‘Silver Beauty’

B. sempervirens ‘Schmidt’

B. sempervirens ‘Sentinelle’

B. sempervirens ‘Salicifolia’

B. sempervirens ‘Salicifolia Elata’

 B. sempervirens ‘Shandy Hall’


B. sempervirens ‘Truetree’


B. sempervirens ‘Verdant Hills’


B. sempervirens ‘Waterfall’

B. sempervirens ‘Welleri’

B. wallichiana


B. sinica var. insularis ‘Pincushion’

B. sinica var. insularis ‘Winter Beauty’

B. sinica


Boxwood detailing at Helen's Haven

My Korean boxwood hedge surround the beds.
Common Name:  Korean box

Botanical Name: Synonymous with and sometimes sold as Buxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Winter Gem’ or Buxus microphylla var. koreana ‘Winter Gem’.

Color: Light colored evergreen foliage that tends to bronze in harsh winters, particularly if plants are located in open areas exposed to full sun and winter winds. For me, I found that once the plants have matured, the bronzing stopped.

Type: Evergreen shrub

Size: 2 – 3 feet tall and wide

Soil: Well-drained

pH: Slightly alkaline

Exposure: Sun to part shade

Watering: Average to medium

Zone: 5-7 Among the various types of boxwoods, the Korean box are most noted for having the best winter hardiness.

Origin: Eastern Asia

Use: Small hedge or specimen plant

Problems: Tolerates rabbit and deer. No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to blights and leaf spot. Root rot can also be a problem in poorly-drained soils. The three main insect pests of boxwoods are boxwood leaf miner, boxwood mite and psyllids.

Garden Maintenance:
 Annual shearing, if desired


Helen's Haven front box

Of all the interest I’ve had in gardening and certain plants, collecting boxwood was never on my radar. At one point, a few years back, I visited the boxwood collection at The National Arboretum  D.C.. I made the trip b/c there was talk of removing it, so I felt I needed to see the collection before it was too late. (It’s still there, BTW.) My reaction was, so what! I didn’t get what all the fuss is about. They were just green shrubs.

My garden was designed to have the beds lined with boxwood. I planted these about 10 years ago. I wanted it now, so I chose one that was fast growing, and also cheap and abundant. I choose Korean box ‘Winter Gem’.

For most of the year, I love it. I do wish I gave the design better thought, though.  In hindsight, I should NOT have chosen B. microphylla japonica syn. B. Sinica var. insularis ‘Winter Gem’ , but truth be told, I didn’t want to wait a lifetime for this to grow and to connect into a continuous hedge. The reasons are subtle, and are ones that I didn’t know about before I made such a BIG design investment.

What I like about ‘Winter Gem’ is the color. The lime green took time to grow on me. At first I missed the dark green of the English and the American box. But I didn’t like the winter bronzing color the ‘Winter Gem’ takes on during cold winters. Although the Koran box has better winter hardiness than most other box, I didn’t like the color change. It started to grow on me, but then as the hedge matured, it no longer changes color in the winter.

blond leaves of the Korean box The real reason I dislike ‘Winter Gem’ is that the dead branches and leaves are blond in color. You might think that it would be no big deal, but for me , it is. I’m living with it, but during the annual shearing, I have to be prepared to do maintenance beyond what I would have to do if they were an English or American box.

Because the dried and dead leaves of the Korean box are not green like the English, it is a slow process to remove or cover up the little bits of leaves left behind during the pruning. Plus, you have to go at it again to remove that you missed the first time. I know to pick up any stray pieces on the ground, but I can’t really see what is still left on the bush until it turns tan. Then I have to take a broom to it to remove. These leaves, of course, fall to the ground and are very noticeable against my composted leaf mulch. Yes, I know I’m picky. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a tidy gardener.

I after I had the box sheared this year, I found several praying mantis egg cases in the branches. The annual shearing of the boxwood at Helen’s Haven is the only task I hire out. Patrick Barkley handles this for me.

Praying mantis egg case

Praying mantis egg case

In the end, I regret planting these Korean box. I should have planned to wait it out.  I selfishly wanted something fast, and I did not want to give the English or American boxwood the time it needed to grow. There was also the added expense. Then I started feeling like I needed to give homage to the boxwood. I opened my eyes to find something interesting about them. I did! Before I knew it, I had a little collection of ones that I just LOVE! I’m now hooked.


Boxwood collection at Helen's Haven

As I look at the pic of me admiring the box, I realize that I need to raise these up. I have a great idea and will work on that soon.

B. sempervirens 'Elegantissima' from my friend Erin Weston

B. sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’ from my friend Erin Weston of Weston Farms


Helen Signature

7 responses to “Ode to the boxwood”

  1. I love the fragrance of English Boxwood!

  2. HelenYoest says:

    Arthur, you are the only person I know who has ever said that. For me, there is no fragrance at all. I wonder what it is about the plant that some cane spell and some can’t. And those who can think it spells like cat pee, typically not a likable scent. You must really love your cats 😉

  3. LaJuana says:

    I have a young English boxwood still in a container. It was a gift from a friend and came from a cutting from the boxwoods at Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown just north of Richmond. It was the home he lived in when he gave the “Liberty or Death” speech. I’m trying to decide where to put it. I’ve come to love the fragrance of boxwoods too after walking thru various mazes in Colonial Williamsburg. That place gets in your blood!

    I’m going to JCRA on Saturday to see what they have looking good this time of year. I need some more evergreens in my center bed in the front…so spindly this time of year… always something needing doing or redoing!

  4. HelenYoest says:

    LaJuana, you saw how I have my boxwood collection arranged. They do fine in containers. I may have to get a cutting from yours! I love the historical part. In fact, I will bring my clippers when I visit. I wish I was in town Sunday, I’d join you. But I leave for the West Coast for another week of my book tour.

  5. ellen says:

    There is always a punishment for wanting instant gratification in the garden!

  6. Oh how I love this post! First of all thank you so much for that link about boxwood blight. I have asked several nursery people about it and looked for local information on it in several places, but since (to my knowledge) it has not reached Wisconsin yet, no one seems to know anything about it. Anyway, I’m thinking of putting a box hedge in and I wanted to have some assurance that all my hard work won’t be wiped out in 10 years. Love your collection! I really want to get ‘Glencoe’ but can you believe that just 90 miles away from the Chicago Botanic Garden, it’s very difficult to find?

  7. HelenYoest says:

    Thank you, Erin! It has been fun learning about them. It really all comes down to the grower and the handler. Buy from a reputable grower and either do the trimming yourself or make sure your maintenance team cleans his tool before he brings trimmers onto the property. If you go to the Saunders site, you can enter your zip code. It will tell you the garden centers local to you that carry their boxwood. You can then go to them and place an order of what you want. That is how I’m getting my’Glencoe’. Hope this helps.

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