The boxwood hedge in front of Detroit Garden Works has been there 17 years. This collection of buxus microphylla koreana were Canadian grown. They had grown to a fairly uniform 3′ tall, and are every bit of four feet wide. Though their winter color was decidedly orange, they were hardy as could be. Just what I would want, given a southern exposure. Until now, that is. Though I was prepared to wait as long as it would take to determine the extent of the damage, dead boxwood is dead boxwood.
We have had an ongoing problem with the section for the past few years. A fungal infection of unknown name that was stubbornly resisting treatment. This past winter weather was the last straw. There was only one decision to be made. How long did I want to look at dead boxwood?
It was entirely fitting that the day we started digging out those old plants was cold wet and miserable. What made the situation even worse were those plants that were half dead. Take them or leave them?
Gardening is not for the faint of heart. There isn’t any way to run way from this level of trouble. The loss of any major feature in a landscape is tough to take on a lot of levels. A big tree that dies or is blown may leave an established shade garden without any protection from the sun. The loss of a focal point can leave a landscape with an aura of pointlessness. Hardy boxwood the size of this hedge is just about impossible to find. Or if it could be found, it would be astronomically expensive to replace.
Replacement may not be the best design decision. I prefer to look at this situation as a call for a new design. What will that be? I am not in a hurry to decide, as I feel the decision is an important one. The space will have something to say for itself, if I give that process enough time.
I will be able to see the tulips blooming from the driveway for the first time. Being able to step back from them is a good thing. Shortly there will be a good reason to sit on that bench. There are lots of gardeners in my area facing the same thing. Every one of them will handle it in their own way. This day’s work was not my idea of getting out and working in the garden in spring. But it is the hand I have been dealt. Redesigning and replanting this space will be my pleasure.