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OUT IN THE GARDEN WITH WESTON'S MARK COX: Create shapes with boxwood

Now growing up as a child I can remember admiring Mrs Lavender’s bush, it was beautifully shaped into a cockerel and as topiary goes it was stunning. On most Sundays Mrs Lavender would be out in the front garden with her shears happily removing stray and unwanted buxus from said cockerel.

I guess that’s why I was drawn to the e-mail I received from Mrs Plummer who is looking for some advice on how to create a topiary animal to impress her grandchildren when they come around to visit.

Well how could I refuse a plea such as this? So with shears in hand I went around to Mrs Plummer’s house. To be honest with you, I was surprised and a little taken a back when I first got there. Mrs Plummer was very polite and lovely. It was the Cliff Richard wallpaper, Cliff Richard calendars, Cliff Richard photos and posters that took me aback and just when I thought I’d seen it all Mrs Plummer offered me a biscuit from a ceramic Cliff Richard headed biscuit barrel.

Boxwood is great for topiary (42697993)
Boxwood is great for topiary (42697993)

It was clear that Mrs Plummer would be starting from scratch so I set about trying to explain the process and what she would need.

In my opinion Buxus sempervirens is a great hedging plant that has proved itself a more than capable topiary specimen. The great thing about Buxus is they are relatively inexpensive and can be found easily at most garden centres.

Mrs Plummer had said that she’d prefer to grow the topiary in a container as she thought it would be nice to have a row of them along her patio for her grandchildren to marvel at. Now with all plants grown in containers it is always a good idea to each spring give the plant a feed with some growmore and a mulch of organic matter. This will keep encouraging strong growth.

As Mrs Plummer was a novice I said I would help her to choose a couple of plants to start with and I advised her to not be too adventurous in her design and topiary animals was something to aim at in the future, maybe a pyramid or cube would be a good way to start.

Anyway skip forward a couple of days and Mrs Plummer had two Buxus sempervirens planted into two nice zinc effect tall planters. After much discussion we agreed that a pyramid shaped topiary would look great especially given the modern looking containers they were in.

The plants chosen where roughly the height she wanted them to stay at which meant we could skip having to wait for the hedging to reach desired height before properly shaping. I told Mrs Plummer she could either make a wooden frame or template to cut against or she could cut the box by eye and trust her inner designer. I said that it’s best to trim little by little; you just want to get the rough shape at this stage.

In the spring you can begin trimming and refining the shape, however this may take a number of years for the box to mature and fill the desired form.

Just as I was about to leave and head home Mrs Plummer gave me a Cliff Richard badge as a thank you. I felt really awful when I told her I couldn’t accept it.She looked at me horrified and slammed the door. Do you know, it’s so funny that we don’t talk anymore?

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