The mission of the National Boxwood Trials is to evaluate boxwood cultivars in a wide range of microenvironments using two primary criteria, grower friendliness and impulse cosmetics. This report focuses on plants in the “boxwood belt” from Connecticut to Chicago, then south to near Kansas City, to St. Louis and then south to Memphis and Birmingham, and along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Additionally, there are international participants in the Republic of Georgia, Yalta, and the United Kingdom.
This sixth Boxwood Trials Report contains data collected from about sixty sites in the United States and overseas. Since the 2006 edition, we have welcomed new cooperators, and “old” cooperators have re-evaluated their plants. Several new cooperators did not submit data this go-round, but we look forward to their input and observations in future editions. Two of those newcomers are the Spartanburg Community College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
It is important to note that the “approval rating” of some of the cultivars may have changed from previous Reports. This could be a result of variations in performance in the same cultivar, different locations in a test plot, or because years of weather factors (severe winters or hot, dry summers), or leaf miner infestations, or other factors have brought out more of the plants’ characteristics, both good and bad.
How can we explain the current resurgence in the popularity of boxwood? It no doubt has something to do with the beauty of the many varieties of this plant, its ability to fulfill a number of landscape needs, and the fact that deer almost never, ever forage on boxwood. We are interested in the plants’ performance in the many microenvironments across our testing area. “Microenvironment” may be defined as a combination of many factors including the plant zone or geographical location, the site orientation within the landscape, how much protection from the wind and sun is provided, the soil type, the pH, and, of course, the TLC given by its caretaker.