The Boxes are gone!
In our little valley, nature is always teaching us something about life. Just when we think everything is perfect, nature steps in and challenges us to change.
In September 2014, I posted about a nasty little caterpillar that had invaded Europe and was devastating buxus (‘box’) hedges, trees and shrubs throughout the continent.
We had a 12 young plants that we’d hope one day would become a hedge and 1 large shrub that provided some privacy between us and our neighbour.
Sadly, our plants weren’t immune to this bug and we watched as they yellowed and shrivelled up under its assault.
We tried several things to beat it.
At first we picked the caterpillars off the leaves. But they returned.
Then we sprayed it. But they returned.
Most of you will know that we like to live a sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free existence so trying poison was only ever going to be a once off thing.
So this year, we decided to remove all of the box on our property. Simple. Clean. Drastic.
We had been preparing for the possibility that this moment might come. We had planted hibiscus between each of the small box hedge plants and the large shrub would be no great loss as I would simply extend the herb garden into that space.
One morning a month ago, I woke and dressed quickly. I was on a mission. First, I went out to the shed where I picked up the large garden clippers. Then, I approached the 12 little box plants that had taken 5 years to form something that remotely resembled a hedge. Before placing the wide smile of my sharp clippers around the ‘necks’ of the first plant, I pondered how it was possible that I could willfully and brutally destroy these much loved but slow growing plants.
I had to keep telling myself that ‘you can’t beat nature’ while I guillotined them one by one.
Then I went over to our large 30 year old box shrub. Stu was hovering over it with the chainsaw and I watched as he carved and chopped his way through the multiple trunks.
When it was done, I knelt in the dirt for 3 hours grubbing out the roots of that shrub and, let me tell you, by the time I had finished I felt utterly no remorse for that plant!
A few weeks later, I noticed that our hibiscus hedge seemed healthier now that it was no longer competing for moisture…and that our extended herb garden seemed more conducive to the rest of the garden.
We had thought that our garden was perfect and invincible with its box hedge and shrub. But nature had other ideas. This time it had challenged us to see that there is life beyond box!