UNITED STATES—Even some of the most avid of garden enthusiasts get some of the work in the garden done by maintenance gardeners. In many regards, even the common ‘mow-blow-&-go’ gardeners can be very helpful. As long as they are not expected to work with trees or shear anything (or everything), they can be remarkably efficient at the tedious and most demanding of tasks that are not much fun. For example, and as the job description implies, they can mow boring lawns and blow inert pavement. We can tend to our own meticulous chores, such as pruning roses and burying bulbs.
However, as professionals, gardeners must be as efficient with their time as possible, so rarely have the luxury of devoting the sort of attention to our gardens as those of us who enjoy gardening as a leisure activity. Consequently, they tend to be more generous with automated irrigation than they need to be. The immediate symptoms of insufficiency are more apparent than the symptoms of excess; so too much seems to be better than not enough. To make matters worse, the driest area of a lawn or bed is the limiting factor for automated irrigation, since everything else that gets watered along with the particular dry spot gets the same frequency and duration (volume) of irrigation.
At a time when many of us are already trying to use significantly less water, it is frustrating to notice any waste. In most gardens, lawn uses more water than everything else combined, but is also the part of the garden that many of us relinquish to maintenance gardeners who are not always there to notice waste. Regardless of any drought or water conservation, excessive irrigation is expensive and unhealthy to trees and many other plants.
Unfortunately, irrigation schedules can not be prescribed, but must be determined by direct experience with the lawn or landscape being irrigated. Even without rain, lawns and landscaped areas require less water through the (normally) cooler and shorter days of winter. The trick to rationing is to give the garden only as much as it needs to survive without allowing it to get too dry, which will undoubtedly cause some friction with any gardeners who may work with it.
Highlight: English Boxwood
Good old fashioned boxwood hedges really look silly if just a single missing plant get replaced with a different cultivar (cultivated variety) or specie. Most of the older boxwood hedges are the traditional, but somewhat yellowish Japanese boxwood. Most middle aged hedges are a relatively newer cultivar that is a bit greener. Modern boxwood hedges are more likely a cultivar of English boxwood, Buxus sempervirens.
English boxwood resembles Japanese boxwood, but has slightly narrower leaves that produce a slightly more objectionable aroma when shorn or otherwise disturbed. These opposite (paired) glossy leaves are only about a quarter to half an inch wide and about twice as long. The color is slightly darker with a more ‘olive’ tone. Wild English boxwood in Europe can grow as small trees. Most garden varieties are fortunately much shorter and more compact, which is why they are so popularly shorn into small formal hedges. They also do well as topiary. ‘Aureo Variegata’ is variegated with nicely contrasting cream colored leaf margins.