Low hedges – a few alternatives to Box

2 Written by Lisa on 6th Oct 2015 in Plants

Box topiary and stone bench in Box, Wiltshire

You may or may not have heard that there’s been an outbreak of box tree caterpillar in London and some of the Home Counties. The caterpillars eat the leaves and produce webbing over their feeding area which can eventually cause the plants to die.

As you’re probably aware, Box (Buxus sempervirens) is also susceptible to box blight, a fungal disease which can also be devastating.

Box is such a useful plant in our gardens, especially where you want some formal structure. It can be clipped tightly into almost any shape and is pretty easy to grow so it’s difficult to imagine our gardens without it.

Hampton Court Palace Garden Lisa Cox

But over the past couple of years some of my clients have been nervous about spending money on box plants, especially if we’re using it for a formal hedge – so what alternatives are there? Here are a few options…

Ilex crenata

This is a really good alternative to Box as it looks very similar to Box and can be clipped in the same way. It’s not as drought tolerant as Box so this is something to bear in mind if you have well drained soil and it’s quite slow to grow so can be more expensive. It’s also available as topiary shapes including balls.


Lavender hedges at the Chelsea Physic Garden

Lavender makes a good low hedge too, although won’t have the formal feel of box when it’s in flower in the summer and does require full sun to grow well. Lavandula angfustifolia ‘Hidcote’ is a good variety and fully hardy in the UK climate. ‘Dwarf White’ is a good variety where space is an issue.

 Phillyrea angustifolia

Phillyrea angustifolia has small glossy green leaves and is sometimes used in Scandinavian parterres as it’s hardier than Box. It also produces tiny scented white flowers in summer and will grow up to 4ft if required.

Pittosporum tenuifolium

Fresh new growth of Pittosporum Tom Thumb

Pittosporum have small glossy evergreen leaves and can be clipped.  ‘Silver Magic’, ‘Tom Thumb’ and ‘Limelight’ are good dwarf varieties which can be kept small.

Lonicera nitida

Lonicera nitida will form a neat hedge up to 3ft tall but it’s vigorous and needs to be kept in check if you want that crisp look. Let it grow and it becomes a rather ugly, swiftly!

If you’re worried about your box plants, the RHS website is a good resource with information about how to recognise box tree caterpillar and box blight including details of how to treat and prevent them from spreading.

It’s bulb planting time!

0 Written by Lisa on 1st Oct 2015 in Design Tips, Plants

Golden narcissus at RHS Garden Wisley Lisa Cox

I’ve just returned from Surrey after 5 long days planting my project in Weybridge.  No photos yet I’m afraid as it wasn’t looking very photogenic without the lawn and with the protective boards down on the terrace.  But I’ll be popping back at the end of October armed with my camera so I’ll share the pictures with you as soon as I can. Read more

Planting – getting the colour tone right

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Jun 2015 in Design Tips, Plants

RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2015 Lisa Cox A Front Garden for Victoria Park Mazda

When I designed the garden at RHS Flower Show Cardiff I really thought the crowd would be divided about the planting because of the warm and vibrant colours.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong, everyone seemed to love it! Read more

A visit to New Wood Trees in Devon

2 Written by Lisa on 9th Feb 2015 in Inspiration, Plants

New Wood Trees Devon Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I went to visit New Wood Trees on Wednesday, a fabulous nursery in Devon specialising in multi-stem trees.  I’ve sourced a few trees from them in the past, but it was great to finally make a trip there to see the extent of their stock and to meet the owner, Philip Nieuwoudt. Read more

The power of yellow…do you love to hate it?

0 Written by Lisa on 4th Nov 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Yellow day lilies at Loseley Park hemerocallis

When I first start to talk to clients about plants, the majority of people say that they don’t want any yellow.  From experience what they actually mean is that there’s a particular plant with a particular tone of yellow that they don’t like or want in the garden. Read more

Gardening and Landscaping Mission to the Netherlands Part Two…The Nurseries

2 Written by Lisa on 30th Oct 2014 in Inspiration, Plants

Field grown trees at Boomkwekerij Ebben Nursery Holland Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Earlier this week I shared some images of the Villa Augustus hotel.  But today I want to share some photos of some of the fabulous nurseries we visited whilst we were there.  Most of the images were taken on my phone so they’re not really up to scratch, but I hope you enjoy all the same… Read more

5 trees that work hard in all seasons

0 Written by Lisa on 21st Oct 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Autumn colours in Wales Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I love the autumn when the leaves start to turn and the colours become warm and vibrant.  This year it seems to be taking a while to get going, in fact yesterday it was a barmy 20 degrees in Surrey, but there are some signs that the trees are turning. Read more

A visit to Sussex Prairies

4 Written by Lisa on 9th Sep 2014 in Inspiration, Plants

Sussex Prairies Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I missed a visit to Sussex Prairies a couple of weeks ago so as the weather was lovely at the weekend we decided to pay a visit.  I’ve been wanting to go for ages! Read more

Calamagrostis…one of my favourite grasses

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Aug 2014 in Garden Flowers, Plants

Contemporary garden design for a modern mews house Sutton 10 `

I love Calamagrostis, or Feather Reed-grass as it’s commonly known, it’s one of my favourite grasses. Read more

The June stars of my garden

0 Written by Lisa on 11th Jun 2014 in Plants

Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Hasn’t it been fabulous to spend some time outside over the past week or so.  My garden this year has gone bonkers, I think because until now we’ve had quite a lot of rain.  But there’s lots in flower so I thought I’d share some pictures of the stars of the show at the moment. Read more

Lisa Cox Welcome

I specialise in helping families to turn their gardens into an extension of their home and into a space that can be used and enjoyed all year round.

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