By Rebecca Sweet, HarmonyintheGarden.com
Combine a shrub that’s versatile, low-maintenance, and tough-as-nails with evergreen elegance and reliability, and you’ve got ‘Baby Gem’ Boxwood. …Which is why this is one of my go-to choices for many gardens I design.
True, there are a ton of boxwood varieties on the market these days, but I’ve yet to find one that I love more than ‘Baby Gem.’ While the glossy, dark green foliage looks like most other varieties, I appreciate its compact 4’x4’ size that doesn’t splay apart with age. Compared to many other mid-size varieties that tend to flop over as they grow, that’s a big deal.
Also, when planted in filtered shade, ‘Baby Gem’ doesn’t bat an eye in my blistering summer garden. Its foliage remains dark green year-round, adding a much-appreciated cool and lush element during the hottest of months.
How I use ‘Baby Gem’ in my designs
The full and upright 4’x4’ size makes ‘Baby Gem’ the perfect candidate for an oversized container. Whether planted on its own or underplanted with low-growing succulents or annuals, it provides years of low-maintenance beauty to your garden.
In fact, low maintenance is the name of the game in my designs, making ‘Baby Gem’ an ideal selection, only asking for an annual dose of slow-release fertilizer in late winter.
Linking shady and sunny spots together
I’m always on the hunt for plants that thrive in mixed lighting. Most plants prefer either sun or shade and will sulk if their lighting isn’t spot on (and by sulk, I mean burn to a crisp or awkwardly grow while reaching for the sun.)
Not ‘Baby Gem’! When designing gardens in milder climates, I use ‘Baby Gem’ in both sunny and shady areas. Its ability to thrive in both types of lighting makes it a perfect ribbon of harmony that knits different areas of the garden together.
Versatility in a range of design styles
‘Baby Gem’ is equally at home in a formal garden, a serene and simplistic Zen garden, or a casual and unstructured cottage garden.
‘Baby Gem’ is a perfect candidate for structured, formal gardens as its slow-growth pattern means less pruning to maintain those crisp lines.
In this low-maintenance, low-water combo, the clipped boxwood hedge is in front of a drift of upright ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary. For a bit more color contrast, however, consider replacing the rosemary with the silvery foliage of the Skyscraper’ Senecio or the burgundy ‘Red Diamond’ Loropetalum.
‘Baby Gem’ is your key to success when mixing formal and informal styles in one garden. The formality of its compact form effortlessly blends with the informal shapes of Ever White Agapanthus, ‘White Wedding’ Hydrangea or ‘Rainbow Sensation’ Weigela.
When planted throughout a garden filled with bold colors, its dark green foliage can unify and link together the bright colors. Conversely, combining ‘Baby Gem’s glossy green foliage with the chartreuse colors of ‘Everillo’ Carex and ‘Highlights’ Ceanothus results in a calming, green-and-serene garden.