A talk by Jess Jones is like catching up with a friend, so we welcomed her and a lovely display back for an evening entitled’ ‘We need to talk bout Buxus’
Jess started with her favourite evergreen plants, stressing these were not replacements for box, rather she uses them with box to add structure, colour, shape and height to a garden.
First was yew, Taxus baccata, which she described as ‘not liking wet roots but otherwise bombproof and not as slow growing as people think’. She clips twice-yearly keeping them dense and uses fastigiate or Irish yew for its columnar habit.
Jess likes Pittosporum tenuifolium for its variety of colour, particularly ‘Golf Ball’ saying as well as taking a good clipping it’s great in Christmas wreaths adding a touch of roundness.
Osmanthus x burkwoodii with its small white, scented flowers was next which Jess uses neatly clipped against walls and in the open garden.
Jess then went onto box, Buxus sempervirens, explaining that box blight fungal infection arrived in London in in 1997/8 and is still spreading, box moth with its destructive caterpillar appeared in 2007. Jess took us through the moths lifecycle adding, although there is no natural predators, jackdaws have been seen eating caterpillars, a small ray of hope.
Not a fan of ripping out box Jess encouraged us to be vigilant, look inside our plants, break off any brown bits, burn or bag for the tip, not to clip when raining as this leaves cut ends open to spores that need moisture to travel, also clip and open up centres allowing air flow. Mulching to lessen splash back and feeding to strengthen plants were also advised.
Such was the friendly mood of the meeting that a member told us of a fungal foot infection, saying that cider vinegar had been recommended as treatment and wondered if it would work on box? If you try it do get in touch, we would all love to know the outcome!