Garden topiary - the potager

This page and its linked pages are in development. More pictures of this area over the years to follow.

box topiary
Box square in the centre of the vegetable plot.

Box in the potager

The potager

We do not grow a lot of vegetables, but do have a small square (about 5 x 5 yards) in which we usually grow rhubarb, mint, courgettes, beans, rosemary, sage, leeks and lettuce. In the centre of this potager is a clipped box topiary form. the centrepiece is ordinary buxus sempervirens, and the triangular corners are the smaller suffruticosa - 3 bushes to each corner. For some reason the centre grows with a yellow leaf, but this turns green as it ages. Some tight clipping is needed to keep the shape, particularly the corners which do not have a lot of strength in their stems.

Box blight
Box square under attack from box blight.

Box blight attack

Box blight

By 2017 box blight had made serious inroads into the topiary. Despite spraying with Bayer fungus fighter, and attempting to clip out affected areas, the summer saw all parts of the bushes badly affected, with the tell-tale brown leaves way back into the bush. The difficult decision was made to cut the bushes down - saying farewell to eighteen years of careful clipping and shaping.

Other box plants in the garden have patches of blight ranging from almost zero (a few browning leaves) to quite bad (defoliated and lots of brown patches). Some have recovered with cutting out the affected branches and spraying with Bayer fungus fighter. Each is being given every possible chance to recover before it is foresaken.

Box blight
Box leaves suffering from blight

Blight attack

Box blight
Box leaves suffering from blight attack

Affected leaves

Box blight
Box leaves suffering from blight turn brown and die back

Badly affected dead leaves

box blight
Box topiary cut back to the roots

Box cut ready for burning

Box square clipped down

The box was cut at the roots and piled up in situ ready for burning. It was covered with a tarpaulin whenever rain threatened, to allow it to dry out over three to four weeks. Once cut the full extent of the blight was clear, with brown leaves held in the centre of the bushes, and presumably holding the blight in there as well. Every effort was made to prevent any of these leaves blowing elsewhere, or ebing trodden around the garden on boots.

burning box blight
Box being burnt following blight attack

Burning box.

Incinerating the infected bushes

One night in July the incinerator was brought down to the square and all the box bushes were burnt with a powerful blaze. They were put in the bin a few strands at a time, and they certainly burnt well. After an hour or so this carefully clipped topiary was reduced to a few ashes. Very, very sad.

Rather than considering replainting any kind of topiary, it was decided that the paving in the area would be extended and this would become a seating area, probably surrounded by colourful annuals and herbs. There are two yew pyramids in the corners - possibly another two will be shaped in the other two corners.