Boxwood (Buxus spp.) is a deciduous evergreen shrub with small, glossy leaves. Because of boxwood's dense growing habit, it is favored by landscapers and gardeners for topiary plantings and formal hedges. Boxwood is also used as a specimen shrub in foundation plantings. Annual and perennial flowers and other shrubs with textural interest all look good planted with boxwood.
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Annual Bedding Plants
Boxwood can be used in the landscape to line border plantings, as topiaries, or even grown in large containers, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. A low-growing boxwood framework can be planted in any design, from a classic knotwork pattern to a modern corporate logo. The areas between these framework lines can then be painted in with the brilliant blooms of annual bedding plants to create a full-color living picture. Impatiens, alyssum, salvia, celosia, marigolds and geraniums all spread to create swaths of color within their boxwood borders. In autumn, these flowering annuals can be replaced with mums, sedum, and flowering kales and cabbages.
Boxwood hedges are a classic backdrop for a formal rose garden, such as those at Edzell Castle, Scotland, or the one grown by New York gardener and gardening writer Kevin Lee Jacobs. The smooth green lines of a boxwood hedge trimmed to crisp geometric shapes provide a neutral foil for the soft beauty and rich color of roses. For a formal boxwood garden hedge on a less-than-castle-sized budget, Jacobs suggests purchasing only enough boxwood plants to roughly outline the flowerbed shapes. Fill in between the plants with groups of 6-inch-long boxwood stem cuttings. Inserted in a well-prepared bed and kept watered, these cuttings should root within six weeks.
The United States National Arboretum chose boxwood as the perimeter planting for its perennial garden. Contrasting shades of day lilies, daffodils and peonies are planted interspersed with the 150 different Buxus species that comprise the National Boxwood Collection. Without the expanse of green boxwood plantings surrounding the perennial collection, the riotous colors of the long-lasting perennials might look too busy and disharmonious, but the clean, aristocratic lines of the boxwood collection pull the whole garden together. Twin rows of tall boxwood hedges lining grass walkways also make for an ideal garden maze, the National Arboretum suggests.
Boxwood has been used in American gardens since the mid-1600s, according to the North Carolina State University Extension. This makes boxwood a historically appropriate choice to surround a colonial-style herb garden. Low boxwood hedge shapes can divide various types or species of herbs from one another, creating a tapestry of green-on-green patterns. The soft gray-green leaves of sage and wormwood provide a complementary tonal contrast to boxwood's dark green glossy leaves. A bay tree, trained as a topiary ball atop a 3-foot trunk in a classic terra-cotta urn creates a focal counterpoint to a boxwood hedge. Chartreuse leaves of lemon thyme, anise hyssop and dill add another layer of rich shades to a boxwood garden design.