Each common box plant is covered with tiny, rounded, bright green leaves. At the base of the leaves there are some inconspicuous yellow flowers that brighten the colour in summer and provide valuable nectar for bees. The sheer number of the leaves makes for springy, bushy foliage that results in a really solid, dense hedge that can be clipped into the most intricate of shapes and the cleanest of lines. Whether common, dwarf or Japanese, our box hedging will impose invaluable evergreen, ornamental structure and formality throughout the year. The plant itself is slow-growing which makes it easy to maintain because you only have to clip it once a year. It is also frost-resistant, will grow well in full shade (a rare and extremely useful characteristic) and can tolerate any type of soil. Box has a slightly citrussy, fresh smell.
Box is one of the best plants for ornamental, low growing hedges where it looks equally good frosted in winter or glossy and bright green in summer. It clips so tightly that you can achieve knife edge lines with it. Box clearly delineates boundaries and can act as a frame for colourful bedding schemes. Use box hedges to edge your cutting flower, herb and vegetable beds where it will transform a functional space into a beautiful one.
Given time and patience, a box hedge can grow up to 6m tall with perfect leafy coverage right to its base and you can add to its formality by training geometric shapes into it. There really is no other plant that can be sculpted as accurately, nor grown with such reliable coverage as box. However, if you would prefer something with some of the look of box but are in a hurry, consider using Lonicera nitida or Ilex crenata.
The wood from box is used for inlay and marquetry work as it is hard and close grained with a warm yellow tone that polishes well. It is so good for this that it has even been used as a substitute for ivory! Just as willow is used for cricket bats, box was used for croquet mallets and for making instruments like recorders and other eighteenth century stringed instruments. Box trees are considered a sacred plant in Georgia, where Box twigs are taken to church on Palm Sunday to bring protection to the home and good luck to the family.
Traditionally clipped on Derby Day because the family would be away from home, we now believe that box is better trimmed in winter when there is less opportunity for box blight to strike. Box blight occurs more frequently in warm and damp conditions where plants are overcrowded. The spores enter where there has been damage or wounds to a plant. For this reason it is safer to clip in the winter now.