Back when crossing the road was considered a legit family outing, my tiny children and I would explore the rolling grounds of a nearby apartment complex, which in a previous incarnation had been the estate of a department store heir.
The mansion and outbuildings were long gone, but there still stood a stone bridge spanning a long-ago containerized stream. There were daffodils naturalized in the woods, growing beneath very old rhododendrons.
And there was this garden.
The bloated and shapeless remains of what was once a sophisticated boxwood-lined series of parterres, intersected with bluestone pavers and stone columns, and terminating in a charming square pond in the center.
Remembering those times we would wander through the poorly trimmed, askew boxwood I recently decided to get some photos of the garden, which I hadn’t visited in a number of years. We went on a Sunday morning. Two days later I noticed the sound of chippers and chain saws coming from that direction, so I walked over once again.
The old garden was completely gone. A sizable pile of mountain laurel, boxwood, japanese holly and other shrubbery was stacked off to the side.
Feeling like this was too bizarre, I ran home for the truck and the kids (not tiny anymore.) We sorted through the pile for some boxwood that while getting yanked had kept some roots, and brought home as many as we could.
In no way can these poor plants be considered fine specimens, but I planted them right in front of my house, about seven in all. All but one look okay right now. They’re even pushing new growth.
Boxwood bushes are the horticultural equivalent to dough. You can form them into any shape; it just takes awhile.
I’m going to let these fill in a little, and next year begin pruning them into a more aesthetic shape. I don’t mind that they look ugly right now, because if I can nurse them back to life I will be so happy to have a piece of a garden that otherwise exists only as a dimming memory and a couple of digital images.