Trimming box in the depths of winter? Not exactly by the book (crimes against horticulture I hear people shout). Not only the timing, we also use machines to do the trimming!
The reason – box blight and half a kilometre of hedging. We (Jim and myself) decided to shift to winter cutting some years ago to avoid the times of year when the fungus responsible for Box blight is active. One of the species responsible for the disease can spread voraciously through the cut leaves that result from trimming. Cutting during the dormant season, in theory, eliminates this risk. Box is hardy enough to recover from any frost damage – more so than from the fungal disease.
We still have blight – it’ll be nigh on impossible to eradicate (quite a bad dose this past Autumn with the warm and wet conditions) but so far it is at acceptable levels. Specialist contractors apply a fungicide spray just once a year but the impact on the environment of this nasty suite of chemicals should be taken seriously.
It’s interesting to see the original design of these Victorian parterres, where Box was not used. The geometric arrangement of flower beds, over looked by the main house were planted solely with herbaceous perennials. The designer, F. Inigo Thomas (1865-1950) hated Victorian bedding and looked to ‘old-fashioned’ flowers to decorate his formal designs. A Victorian re-creation of an Elizabethan garden. The parterres have gone through several incarnations as illustrated by these photographs from the 1990’s. Diificult to imagine the drought conditions that left the lawn looking so dry. 1995?