13 November 2008

Spray-On Shrubbery

Got a dead shrub that’s driving you crazy? Just spray paint it! That’s a strategy I recently saw used on the University of Texas at Austin campus, where traditional boxwood hedges line many of the landscapes to nice effect.

Notice anything amiss? Look closely...

This dead boxwood shrub was spray painted to keep the hedge looking complete (not a good color match though).

Apparently, boxwood hedges date back to the Greeks, and they are a mainstay for more formal gardens. Though the shrub isn’t suited incredibly well for Central Texas, it is used all over the place. I take it that it requires a ton of water and doesn't like intense sun very much. As an alternative, lots of folks use a few dwarf varieties of the native evergreen yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria, which can be pruned and pounded into many different hedgy shapes. I’ve also seen dwarf wax myrtle, another native variety, used in this way.

Here's a very cool example of a kind of boxwood knot in a corner of James David's garden:


Anonymous said...

Eww to the spray-painted boxwood.

Boxwood does have some advantages. Rather than being a water hog, it's very drought tolerant, at least in the shade. I've seen it growing in many a friend's yard, apparently planted 25 years ago and ignored ever since, and even when the lawn dries up and shrivels away, the boxwood is as green and healthy as ever.

Also, deer won't eat it, but they will eat our native dwarf yaupon holly, alas.

Lee said...

Oh! I guess I was totally wrong about boxwood in C. TX....thanks Pam for the clarification. It sounds like shade is best.

I'm glad I don't have to worry about deer in my garden (yet).

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Lee,

The blue spray-paint color looks like that grass-seed stuff that's used for edges of roads! Wonder if the formula was designed for Blue Spruce trees?

References in novels made me like the idea of boxwood, but we seldom saw it in Northern IL. Up there it took forever to grow and got windburned in cold weather.
At our last house I used boxwood in containers because the deer didn't eat them - a definite plus.

When we bought our present house it had a very established boxwood hedge growing with some afternoon shade. As Pam notes, it seems quite drought tolerant. We brought the small containered boxwood along and planted them near the shed and in the Secret Garden. They're still getting established and I water them because I want them to grow.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose