Early June is the time of year when everyone starts clipping away at topiary and box hedges. Derby Day is the traditional date to start – if you don’t follow horse racing this date won’t mean much, but Derby Day is the first Saturday in June.
So why do we clip box on Derby day or early June? Well, Box usually starts into growth in April and by June it will be covered in a lovely shaggy mass of bright green new growth making all those neat balls, cones or hedges look a little bit fuzzy and out of shape. If we clip and shape the box now then there is time for any further growth to harden off before the end of summer. If clipping is done later in the year then there is a risk that new growth could be damaged by early frosts. At this time of year it seems wrong to be thinking of frosts!
Clipping and having a good look at box hedging now, also means we can give it a check for any disease or stress and treat it before things get too bad. We’ll look at the main problems affecting Box in our next blog later this month.
The important things to consider when clipping your Box are:
Use sharp tools – sharpen before starting and if necessary sharpen again whilst you work as blades can become blunt quickly.
Keep tools clean and clean after clipping each hedge to prevent disease being spread between plants.
Tidy up all clippings to prevent disease spreading – easiest to lay out a sheet around the Box before starting to make tidying up quick and easy.
Use tools that are comfortable for you to use – two handled shears may be quick and good for large hedges but if they are uncomfortable for you to use or too big for a small shape then you’ll not do a neat job.