Caring for 600 Yards of Boxwood

posted in: blog | 0

Many thanks to Laurie Masciandaro, Site Manage of Roseland Cottage for this update!


Last Thursday was a special day in Roseland Cottage’s garden—one that marked the transition from late winter to early spring, and has for 165 years. The dwarf English boxwood received its annual pruning. How long does it take to prune 600 yards of boxwood? about 32 hours. Four workers spent all day—nearly eight hours—working in our garden, keeping our pride and joy in check. After the pruning, there is nothing more dignified than our hedge, and it stays beautifully green for about a week. Then it scares us all by turning a little yellow where it’s been pruned, and each year we worry that it’s dying, but by late May it will return to its verdant, lush green, ready to frame the 4000 annuals we plant at the end of May each year.

B0002P 0098.  Photograph by Aaron Usher.

For 4 years now, we’ve been concerned at the presence of Boxwood Blight in Connecticut. It’s a fungal infection spread from infected boxwood to healthy boxwood on people’s shoes and pant legs. It begins with light or dark brown spots or lesions on the leaves, which grow, eventually turning leaves brown or straw colored. It doesn’t take very long for defoliation and then death of the plant, in most cases.

We would be devastated if the boxwood in our care died, so we follow a strict protocol, put in place by our arborist:

·         We have closed the paths to the public

·         Gardeners must wash their tools in alcohol, and spray themselves with Lysol before entering the garden

·         Watering is done in the morning, and we avoid overhead watering or getting the boxwood wet

·         Pachysandra is a carrier, so we ask our gardeners to be mindful of that

We hope to insure that our boxwood, which dates back to 1850 (see Mr. Bowen’s original order of 600 yards of dwarf boxwood edging for $75), is here and healthy for another 165 years.

Plant list from Henry C. Bowen to P. H. A. Dyer dated November 4

Constance Holt in the Roseland Cottage garden, Woodstock, Conn.

Constance Holt, granddaughter of Henry and Lucy Bowen, in the garden from the 1890s. The Bowens built Roseland Cottage in 1846 as a summer home.