Boxwood Blues

After bricking in more of the seating area, and plotting where I want my herbs to go, I noticed that the boxwood hedge around the holly needed pruning, and took out my trusty bypass clippers and started whacking at it.  Then I noticed that all the gunk that I'd just let drop down into the hedge through the years had settled into the nooks and crannies to rot.

Ooh, bonus compost! I grabbed a rake and began shaking the hedge to make it drop all the decomposed matter to the bottom, where I worked it into the surrounding soil around the pavers, which needs amending, so I can plant ground cover. With the detritus removed, all the dead limbs on the interior of the hedge stood out like sore thumbs.

Out came the hand pruners! And away went the dead limbs. A large pile of prunings began forming under the hedge.  I should have stopped there, but I noticed that a lot of branches were crossed and trying to grow around each-other and thought "well, that can't be good for them!"

So then I pruned off crossing branches, and grabbed the loppers for the larger limbs. The result up-close was a nice, airy space for new growth to come in. Except, of course, two problems:

1) I'd gotten the itch to prune in summer, rather than dormant season, so conditions aren't ideal for the hedge to recover from the shock. This summer has been relatively cool, so I'm hoping that won't be much of a problem.

2) When I took a step back to get the big picture, I realized I'd  pruned big, fat holes into the hedge. It's hideous! Where this last photo shows empty space, there used to be a carpet of leaves. Now it looks like the bad haircut mama gave you and sent you to school with, so the other kids could laugh mercilessly at you.

It took a few hours, plus 3 different types of cutting implements, a rake, and a shovel (to work the compost into the soil) to ruin a boxwood that my grandfather took years to shape and train. Defeated, I turned toward the house, looked up and noticed the cedar bonsai also had decomposing material stuck in its branches. I grabbed the rake and shook out as much as possible, and realized that it, too, was in dire need of pruning...