The Q&A Archives: Compact evergreens

Question: Can you recommend a hardy, compact, rounded shrub that stays small for the lower NY area? I love the look of the green velvet boxwood or dwarf holly. Need many for new home, but don't want to make a bad purchase. Thanks.

Answer: Both your choices are good, but I'm leaning toward the green velvet boxwood because it will remain small without heavy pruning. Here are the details:

Green Velvet Boxwood is a handsome, rounded, full-bodied, slow-growing shrub with small dark green leaves. Like most modern cultivars, it is a hybrid of Korean Boxwood (for hardiness and compactness) and Common Boxwood (for excellent leaf color in both summer and winter). During late winter the leaf color is best described as dark green with a bronze hue. The noticeable but not showy flowers are cream-colored inflorescences occurring in late April and early May on established plants. The flowers are somewhat fragrant and usually attract bees. Green Velvet Boxwood can be used individually or in clusters and is commonly used as a hedge or foundation planting. It is easily shearable into different shapes.

Green Velvet like most Boxwood is traditionally planted in shady sites. However, it is very tolerant of sunny locations as long as it receives sufficient moisture. It will slowly grow to 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide.

Burford holly produces very glossy, dark green foliage. Generally, only one leaf spine is present, and this is at the tip of the leaf. This very popular and widely used landscape holly produces an excellent crop of berries each year. Burford grows quite large, often reaching 10 to 15 feet.

Dwarf Burford Holly has characteristics similar to Burford holly. The glossy dark green leaves are smaller, and growth rate is slower. The leaves, generally, have only one spine at the tip. Dwarf Burford will grow to a height of at least five to six feet if not pruned heavily.

Hope this information is helpful!

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