Monday, 3 March 2014

RIP box balls.

Yes indeed my two lovely box balls have succumbed to blight. I am very sad about this as I loved them but as also they are quite expensive to lose.
Box blight has no known cure, is caused by fungus and will have been brought on by the excessively damp Winter here, it spreads only to other box (buxus) so at least everything else in my garden is safe from it. Thank goodness I don't have a whole knot garden.

 You can see them here looking healthy and happy, but they became:

The two little ones seem safe for now, but I will keep an eye on them.

I liked them because they marked a good spot on either side of the grass path and it looks a little bare without them.

So no more box, I can't afford to lose expensive plants like that so I am now looking for alternatives.
I am told Hebe is a nice alternative with the advantage of lovely flowers once a year. It can also be shaped nicely to look like a ball too. I could try yew, but it, too is rather expensive and I don't want it to grow excessively large. I have sweet box (sarcococca confusa) already in the garden and don't want any more although the winter smell is wonderful. I did even wonder at a couple of hydrangeas as I could ditch them in a dark corner when they get to that stage that I dislike so much (yet others seem to love) but they too are rather expensive and I really want something that I can keep there year round. So hebe is at the top of the list, but I am more than prepared to think about any other suggestions. Something I could topiarize (is that even a word?) would be nice..


  1. I had to read this to find out what a box ball is. I am a bit dumb when it comes to plant names. I have got a hebe hedge, it's gone a bit leggy so I suppose I should have trimmed it a bit harder when it was young. Now it's an unruly teenager, ha ha.

  2. Just received the Lidl newsletter, 6 pk box hedging for £5!Immediately thought of you! ��
    Hope you have a Lidl close by. ~Sue~

  3. Lonicera nitida - evergreen shrubby honeysuckle. I think It's even nicknamed the box honeysuckle. For hedging or topiary.

  4. You should try making cuttings of boxwood. They take rather well. It is not difficult to do but it takes a long time (a few years) to get a small shrub. Almost all my box balls were made from cuttings.
    Good luck finding a solution.

  5. Rosemary can be sculpted nicely and I adore its sweet tiny blue flowers.

  6. Sorry to hear about your box, all the suggestions above are great, I would have suggested yew to you, but I see you have thought of it already. However, there are many different varieties of yew, perhaps you should look at them one more time? I have Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata Robusta' in my garden, in 10 years it has grown from the 30cm plant I bought to an about 150cm tall bush. It is very narrow so could easily have been growing in a container as a centrepiece or with one on each side of a path or a doorway. I have never pruned mine but you can prune and shape them pretty much as you do with box. Final height and width after 100 years is about 6-8m, but you are not likely to live to see that!

  7. I've planted so much box this post sends a chill down my spine. I would burn the balls (good phrase) and go to Lidl (as suggested above). Once you have some box, cuttings will keep you in free plants for life - though they take a while. You did have bad luck with your first two plants though. (I generally find hebe's a bit too scraggly - yew is a great alternative and once established are actually quite fast growers). Dave