Informal Plants

Well-tended box hedges can seem very precise and formal, but the rigid lines can be softened to create an image of structured relaxation. Allowing the plant to grow bushier enables some experimentation in topiary or clipping to shape.

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Boxwood Hedge and Herbs Create Informal FormalityEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Blocks of solid planting mellow when more than one cultivar of the same genera are mixed, as with these various Lavandula angustifolia, planted to contrast with the Alchemilla mollis in the background, which is allowed to sprawl unchecked over the paths. Box hedges frame the upright flowering spikes of foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). Don't forget the vertical aspect as this can draw the eye toward the core of the vista. In this stunning array, Foeniculum vulgare "Purpureum" acts as a soft central spindle to the herbal planting.

Materials Needed:

  • 5 x Digitalis purpurea
  • 5 x Alchemilla mollis
  • 10 x two cultivars of Lavandula angustifolia
  • 1 x Foeniculum vulgare "Purpureum"
  • 50 x Buxus sempervirens

Border Basics

Size: 15 x 15 feet
Suits: Larger gardens
Soil: Fertile, moist, but well-drained
Site: Border in full sun

Planting and Aftercare

Complicated plantings demand thorough soil preparation including weed removal and incorporation of plenty of gravel and well-rotted compost or manure in equal quantities. Plant in stages, doing the box first, in the fall. Aftercare is intensive, as the diversity of herbs used need deadheading, clipping, or cutting back at differing times. Biennials, like the foxgloves, need replacing every other year unless allowed to set seed.

Digitalis purpurea (Image 1)
Fully hardy plants, moist soil, full sun, partial or dappled shade

Alchemilla mollis (Image 2)
Fully hardy plants, moist soil, full sun, partial or dappled shade

Foeniculum vulgare "Purpureum" (Image 3)
Fully hardy plants, well-drained soil, moist soil, full sun

Lavandula angustifolia (Image 4)
Fully hardy plants, well-drained soil, moist soil, full sun

Buxus sempervirens (Image 5)
Fully hardy plants, well-drained soil, full sun, partial or dappled shade, award-winning plant

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Herbs

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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