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Last edited 15 Jun 2022
Boxwood or Box often refers to Buxus, a genus of over fifty species in the family Buxaceae. It is also called Common Box or European Box (latin; Buxus sempervirens). These are slow growing evergreen shrubs or trees, that are generally lower than 10 metres, making them ideally suited and well know for their use for topiary.
There is evidence of boxwood growing in England as early as the 7000BC, but is died out, whilst by 000 the Egyptians were using it as hedging in gardens, and whilst the earliest record of the timber being used is a table in the tomb of King Midas in 00 BC which was discovered in 1951. The Romans re-introduced Boxwood to England in 100BC and Boxes are now considerd native to western and southern Europe, southwest, southern and eastern Asia, Africa, Madagascar and South America, great varieties found today in Cuba and China aswell as Madagascar.
The box hedge was not popular with the natural landscape movement of the 1700's and the renowned landscape designer Capability Brown removed much formal box hedging from gardens, and also in turn agricultural hedges might be replaced with sunken boundaries or Ha Ha's invented around the same time. The 1800's saw an influx or exotic plants alongside the trend for glasshouses and a return to the poularity of knot garden and parterres, which often featured clipped box hedging and edging with clipped cotton lavender. This continued into the 1900's with characters such a Lutyens and the increased appearance of topiary in the Chealsea flower show. Today boxwood species continues to be a staple hedging species and is not listed as being a species under threat.
The sapwood and heartwood for box are almost indistinguishable from one another, with the heart being considered durable whilst overall it is light cream yellow in colour which darkens with long sunlight exposure. As it is quite homogenous but generally small in size and therefore well-suited to carving and wood turning, for such things as chess pieces, musical instruments (flutes, recorders, woodwinds, etc.), rulers and handles.
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