For centuries, English Boxwood (Buxus Sempervirens) has been one of our favourite garden plants. Extremely versatile, Box has so many uses in the garden as a superb structural, evergreen plant. So much so, it is difficult to see how we can move on from the devastating development of this most irritating of fungi. Because of Box Blight, our lovely boxwood now is becoming increasingly hard to protect without the constant use of fungicides. And sadly, the future does not look good. At present, there is no known blight resistant variety of Buxus available. The Box Blight fungus causes the leaves to become brown spotted and fall off, leaving the stems of the plant devastatingly bare. Not a pretty sight!
What to do?
Harsh as it may sound, the answer is to stop growing Boxwood in our opinion and remove any infected plants from your garden as they will never really recover from an attack. Ilex Crenata is not just a good alternative to box hedge, in many ways it is a superior plant
Meet Ilex Crenata!
Native to Japan, Ilex Crenata, also known as Japanese Holly or box-leaved holly, looks very similar indeed to Buxus Sempervirens, but if you look closely, you will see a crenate (scalloped) margin.
Ilex Crenata is low maintenance and slow growing. It really is an easy plant to grow and is not prone to the problems that occur with our beloved Buxus. Making topiary or creating shapes is really where this plant comes into its own but it also looks very effective as low to medium height hedge. It is hardy and handsome with its lovely light green new growth, offsetting the darker green of the older foliage. Most of us will know Ilex Crenata as the plant used to create spectacular cloud trees crafted in the ancient Japanese Niwaki style. But there is much more to Japanese Holly than that! Our Ilex Crenata topiary collection offers lots of choice, including Ilex Crenata balls, Ilex Crenata Spirals and Ilex Crenata Lollipops.
For a more decorative option, Ilex Crenata Pleached Trees. This just illustrates how versatile these plants are.