The weather is nice, the sun is setting and you are out on your patio enjoying a cocktail.
As soon as you sit down, you begin to notice the weeds around you, along with the flowers that are dying and other things that need to be watered. Your relaxed feeling disappears, only to be replaced with guilt and anxiety that you’ve let your garden go to seed, literally. Rather than taking a breather to enjoy some time outside, you find yourself bent over pulling up dandelions and nut grass instead.
Boxwood gardens are the solution. Also known by their French name, parterre, boxwood gardens are low to no maintenance, stress-free and simple. The gardens at Versailles and Kensington Palace, as pictured below, are great examples of this.
A parterre is a formal garden constructed on a level surface, consisting of planting beds arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern, with gravel paths laid between. The beds are edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging and need not contain any flowers. (Wikipedia)
Landscape designer Barbie Tafel was inspired to create her own parterre after visiting France. Tired of constantly buying flowers and weeding with no end in sight, she wanted a garden that thrived on neglect, so she dug up what she had and replaced it all with boxwood shrubs.
What looks to be a very complicated layout is actually just boxwood shrubs laid out in a pattern, as you’ll see in the next few photos:
Below is my (amateur) rendition of the garden plan. There are six quadrants. The two in the middle are different–one contains a pond, the other contains a bench and tree. The four on the corners mirror each other. You could do this with two, four, six, or eight quadrants; whatever number you want is fine, as long as you work with an even number.
Barbie believes in staying away from annuals and perennials as much as possible. Perennials may come back each year, but they only bloom for a couple of weeks and do not look so great the rest of the year.
She recommends doing your homework or asking advice when picking out your boxwoods. In her garden, she used Green Velvet and Green Gem miniature boxwoods, which are considered miniatures. You need to make sure that the size of the boxwood corresponds to the size of your garden.
To contact Barbie Tafel, email her at [email protected].
As for me, I might have to rethink my career after seeing my incredible design plans above.