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The three finest alternate options to field for easy topiary – The Center-Sized Backyard

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October 18th, 2020 Posted In: Garden trends & design, Gardening know how

There are just a few good alternate options to field (English boxwood or Buxus sempervirens) for topiary. However I’ve simply visited a pleasant personal backyard in Kent which exhibits off each field and the most effective field substitutes completely superbly.

With the field tree moth caterpillar presently munching its means by gardens all over the place, it’s been a scorching subject for the previous few years.

Alternatives to box for simple topiary

I’ve requested the top gardener of this lovely backyard in Kent, Jim Treby, about alternate options to field for topiary and hedging. The backyard has a number of field, however he’s increase evergreen construction with different crops. The purple ball right here is Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb.’

Even when you don’t have field blight or field tree caterpillar the place you reside, there are nice benefits to discovering alternate options to field in your topiary and low hedging construction.

Firstly, the totally different leaf colors make a very good distinction, as you possibly can see under (and above!).

Cone box topiary and ilex crenata hedge

Right here a field cone and a low hedge of Japanese holly (Ilex crenata), typically advisable as an alternative to field have contrasting leaf colors. It’s not, nevertheless, in our prime three alternate options to field (see in a while!)

And secondly, if a pest or illness does come alongside, a superb combine of various shrubs will assist cease the unfold. Having a lot of the identical plant in a single backyard can imply that one pest or illness can devastate the backyard. Variety is the important thing to good well being.

This lovely personal backyard has been planted with a lot of field topiary through the years. And it’s had a quick brush with each field blight and the field tree caterpillar.

However Jim has obtained it below management, partly by discovering alternate options to field and partly by treating the few affected crops they did have.

Box balls and palm trees

Rows of field balls and two palm bushes add punctuation to a change in ranges. It is a backyard which appears to be like good all yr spherical as a result of it has such a robust evergreen construction. However these field balls are a key a part of it, so Jim is slowly introducing extra alternate options to field.

Box edging for a lawn

And on the opposite garden, field balls in a row and in pots are used to edge and body the garden, giving it a classical really feel.

Alternate options to field for topiary and low clipped hedging

  1. Yew – the primary different to field
  2. Pittosporum
  3. Euonymus
  4. Viburnum tinus (rounded shapes solely)
  5. Privet (however it’s quick rising so wants clipping repeatedly)
  6. Holly, together with Ilex crenata (with warnings…)

Yew is the most effective different to field

Jim says that yew (Taxus baccata) is by far the most effective different to field for topiary and low hedges. ‘Folks consider it for grand gardens and massive hedges,’ he says. ‘However it may be lower fairly low and into any form you need. You may prune it as arduous as you want and it’ll develop in any soil. It doesn’t like its roots sitting in moist soil, however in any other case it’s very sturdy.’

If you would like vertical shapes, he recommends Irish yew, which is grows up in a slim, tight fastigiate column. If you would like balls, spirals, containers or low hedging, then purchase English yew.

yew topiary

These yew hedges and topiary are substantial, however Jim says that yew additionally clips neatly into smaller shapes. There are pictures to indicate that the spiral on the left was a planted in late Victorian occasions, when it was fairly small and a very totally different form.

low yew hedge

This low yew hedge is about three years outdated and clips into a wonderful tight form.

Jim recommends shopping for naked root yews not less than 60cm-80cm tall. Lower them again when you may have planted them if you’d like them shorter. ‘For some purpose, planting pot grown yews below 60cm typically has a excessive failure fee,’ he says.

In second place – pittosporum

‘If you would like giant topiary balls, I’d select pittosporum,’ says Jim. ‘It’s one other improbable evergreen plant. It doesn’t have many pests or illnesses – simply occasional leaf spot which will be handled very simply.’

You may prune pittosporum again arduous and it’s drought tolerant. ‘Nevertheless, it’s fairly vigorous,’ he says. ‘You may clip field every year, ideally in July/August in order that new progress hardens off earlier than the frosts. However yew and pittosporum each want clipping twice a yr, in spring and autumn.’

Pittosporum 'Cratus'

A slim clipped yew hedge and darkish inexperienced balls of Pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Cratus’) work effectively collectively on this nook.

Contrast leaf colours in simple topiary

This a part of the backyard options clipped grey-green Pittosporum balls (Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Eugenoides variegatum’), low Ilex crenata hedges, a yew hedge within the foreground and a field cone. The distinction in leaf color is pleasant.

Pittosporum Tom Thumb with purple foliage

Contrasting with field balls – purple pink Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ in its autumn foliage. In spring, it’s a recent inexperienced.

When shopping for pittosporum, Jim recommends you examine that the plant isn’t pot sure. Slip it out of its pot to ensure that the roots haven’t shaped a good mat in opposition to the aspect of the pot. That is known as ‘pot sure’ and pot sure crops typically fail to thrive as their roots don’t unfold out into the soil in the precise means.

Pittosporums may also be barely frost tender, so don’t plant them in a frost pocket. You probably have a tough frost forecast, Jim recommends that you simply throw a horticultural fleece over them.

Alternate options to field – euonymus

Euonymus is the third finest different to field, says Jim. Like Pittosporum, it is available in numerous totally different varieties with shades from grey-green to yellow-green.

Euonymus is an efficient different to field. This exhibits Euonymus Emerald & Gold (prime) and Euonymus ‘Emerald Gaiety’ (silver-leafed, above).

Euonymus are usually pest and disease-free, says Jim. However they’ll lose their leaves in very chilly winters, though they re-grow once more the next spring. It’s a gradual rising plant and can take some time to type right into a low hedge or form.

Three alternate options to field it’s possible you’ll need to keep away from

There are three different crops that may work as alternate options to field for easy topiary, however Jim has reservations about them.

Japanese holly (Ilex crenata)

Firstly, Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) has typically been advisable for topiary, as a result of it appears to be like so like field. It has small leaves and will be clipped into shapes. However Jim says that he finds that it has a looser behavior. ‘You received’t get the tight, compact topiary you’ll get from yew or field.’

It doesn’t thrive on this backyard, though it’s alleged to do effectively in any soil. Jim says that it’s additionally fairly costly, so personally he wouldn’t purchase it achieve.

Japanese holly as an alternative to box

This Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) isn’t pretty much as good for a good, clipped form as yew is. Jim says it doesn’t appear to get its roots in addition to established and might look scrappy.

Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium)

Secondly, privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) will be clipped into form. I’ve obtained two privet lollipops in my backyard and they’re a really reasonably priced means of getting topiary.

However Jim warns that privet may be very fast-growing, so that you would wish to clip it 3 times a yr. I agree with him. It’s positive for me to clip two little requirements 3 times a yr, but when I had any extra privet it might be too excessive upkeep.

Viburnum tinus

Thirdly, there’s Viburnum tinus. That is seen right here by the steps in Jim’s backyard (see under) and it appears to be like nice clipped into lollipop shapes. However he says that it is just good for a rounded form and couldn’t be clipped into cones or spirals.

Viburnum tinus as an alternative to box

The balls within the entrance are field. Behind them is Viburnum tinus, which look nice clipped as rounds, however which might be no good as cones or spirals. The little brown patch on the sting of the entrance field ball is as a result of canine cocking its leg, to not blight. That’s value fascinated with when you’ve got male canines and need to have field topiary or hedging near the bottom!

Fashionable clipped shaping for a conifer hedge!

There’s a clipped conifer hedge on this backyard which is fabricated from two contrasting conifers.  The principle run of the hedge of Cypress Leylandii, stored clipped repeatedly. Barely paler Thuja occidentalis are planted in entrance of it, and in addition clipped to form. It makes a trendy distinction.

Clipped conifer hedge

This good hedge is fabricated from Cypress leylandii with Thuja occidentalis planted as ‘buttresses’ in entrance of it. Such an incredible therapy for a hedge.

Leylandii cypress and thuja occidentalis hedges

I really like the leaf distinction between these two conifers. Thuja is straightforward to clip because it grows out of outdated wooden. You must preserve Leylandii cypresses lower repeatedly. As soon as they’re uncontrolled, you possibly can’t clip them again as a result of they received’t re-grow from outdated wooden.

Therapies for field blight and field moth caterpillar

If you wish to keep away from field blight, ensure you purchase your field from specialist, ideally native suppliers who know they haven’t obtained it. Or develop your individual from cuttings. By no means borrow different individuals’s shears or different gear.

However because the field tree moth caterpillar can fly, these measures are much less efficient in opposition to it.

You should buy efficient chemical remedies in opposition to each field blight and field tree moth caterpillar. However the best remedies want a licence. So beginner gardeners usually don’t have entry to those. Jim has a licence, so he makes use of a pesticide known as Bandu in opposition to the caterpillar and a fungicide known as Signum in opposition to the blight.

There are additionally remedies out there for home gardeners. The RHS has a web page of recommendation on preventing and treating box blight for amateur gardeners.

You may as well interact corporations to hold out skilled remedies. Jim used to work for certainly one of them – Bartlett Tree Companies.

See this actually fairly backyard in video

You may see far more of this actually lovely backyard on this video, together with Jim’s interview. It truly is value watching (I believe!)

Store my favorite gardening merchandise, books and instruments

I’m typically requested for suggestions so I’ve put collectively lists of the gardening merchandise, books and instruments I take advantage of myself on the Middlesized Garden Amazon retailer. Word that hyperlinks to Amazon are affiliate, so I could get a small price when you purchase, however I solely suggest issues I genuinely use myself!

For instance, there’s a topiary e book and the shears I (and {many professional} gardeners) use within the Create Your Own Topiary list here.

And there’s extra about using easy topiary shapes in stylish ways to present your backyard evergreen construction here. Plus there are money-saving tips for buying topiary right here.

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