Box on home turf

Like many garden designers and other horti types, these days I’m on a quest for alternatives to Buxus (box plants). Since Elizabethan times, clipped box has been the year-round green structure of choice for formal settings, knot gardens, parterres and elsewhere.

But due its growing susceptibility to attack from blight and caterpillars, fewer designers are specifying it for use in London nowadays. And much of the South East is pretty questionable too, unless the gardener with eventual responsibility for the site is known to be very attentive to warning signs.

Having staycationed this summer, we’ve broken out this week and travelled down to Provence. Here, the wild Buxus is in its own element: dry, sun-drenched nutrient-poor limestone hillsides. All the more so when enveloped in healthy lichen like this wild’n’wooly specimen near Buoux in the heart of the Luberon nature park.

Incidentally, this panoramic view is from across a gorge to the fort of Buoux which has provided shelter to tribes and persecuted sects since pre-historic times.  I suspect the box in the hills around it will survive rather longer than many of those planted on our home turf.  

I'll write a separate post shortly about some of the best alternatives to Buxus for gardens in England.