December E-News from Viette's                   Volume 9: No. 12

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                           December/2013

Bright red berries of winterberry are beautiful covered in snow!  
Wishing You
All the Joys
of the Season
and a Very
Happy New Year!

Your Friends at Viette's

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Plant of the Month
Boxwood have beautiful evergreen foliage.
Boxwood have beautiful
evergreen foliage.
Buxus - Boxwood
This old-fashioned favorite is a shrub with many "uses"

Boxwood has been described as "Man's Oldest Garden Ornament". It was introduced to North America from Europe in the 17th century and has been an important part of many American gardens ever since. This elegant and long-lived evergreen shrub with its small leaves and fine texture has many different uses in the landscape. It is commonly used in formal hedges, as an edging plant, in foundation plantings, and even as an impressive accent plant. Boxwoods are also one of the best shrubs for use in creating magnificent topiaries.
Many Different Forms
Although there are more than 150 different boxwood cultivars, two types, American Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens and English boxwood, Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa', are the most commonly grown boxwood in American gardens. English boxwood is considered the "true edging" boxwood and this low-growing form is often used in more formal landscape designs. Buxus sempervirens also includes many of the taller cultivars that are seen around many older homes, especially in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Newer cultivars have been selected for a variety of different growth forms and also for increased winter hardiness. Buxus microphylla (Littleleaf boxwood) is a lower growing species that includes the very slow growing Japanese boxwood which grows from 3 to 6 feet tall. This species also includes the smallest cultivar, 'Compacta' which grows only to about 12" tall!

Boxwood is considered a fairly low-maintenance shrub. Most cultivars prefer full sun or part shade, however, in colder regions, they perform better if they are planted in a less exposed area where they are protected from winter winds and full sun exposure. Spraying with an anti-desiccant like Bonide Wilt Stop in the late fall and again in mid-winter can help prevent winter burn and sun scald.

Well-drained soil is essential to avoid problems with root rot.  If you are planting in heavy clay soil, add gypsum or Espoma Soil Perfector and good organic matter to improve drainage. Be very careful if you have an automatic sprinkling system as this often keeps the soil too wet for boxwood.

Fertilizing Boxwood At planting time, amend the soil with an organic fertilizer like Espoma Plant-tone or Holly-tone, rock phosphate, and Espoma Greensand according to the Viette recommendations. After the first year, fertilize with Plant-tone or Holly-tone in the early spring and again in the fall. Avoid fertilizing with chemical or quick release fertilizers late in the summer or fall as this can lead to a burst of tender new growth that will be subject to winter injury.
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Did You Know?
The windward side of this Korean boxwood has become bronzed from wind and sun exposure.
The windward side of this Korean boxwood has become bronzed
from wind and sun exposure.
Boxwood Bronzing
If exposed to full sun and frequent frost and wind, the foliage of boxwood can become orange or bronze in the winter. This is especially common in certain boxwood varieties such as the small-leaved Korean Boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana).
Korean boxwood foliage became bronzy orange during winter.
Korean boxwood foliage can become orange during winter.

Protect your Evergreens
There are certain things you can do to help protect boxwood and other evergreens from sunburn and winter winds that might cause discoloration of the foliage.
Most important is to keep them watered during the winter especially when the ground is not frozen. Gardeners often forget that evergreens continue to function physiologically (albeit at a reduced rate) throughout the winter. Cold winter winds can suck moisture from the leaves and if this water is not replaced through uptake by the roots, winter injury can occur. This is why it is important to water your evergreens deeply in the late fall before the ground freezes. During dry winter weather when the ground is not frozen, be sure to check your evergreen trees and shrubs and water deeply if necessary. This is especially important in a mild winter.
Feed your boxwood in the spring and fall with a slow release organic fertilizer like Espoma Holly-tone or Plant-tone to keep them healthy and vigorous.
Spray your susceptible evergreens with an anti-desiccant like Bonide Wilt Stop to help protect them from winter injury by forming a soft, clear flexible film over the leaves. In colder areas, the more tender broadleaf evergreens like Camellias and some varieties of boxwood and hollies should be sprayed with Wilt Stop and then carefully wrapped in burlap for additional protection from sun and wind.
Keep in mind that for some boxwood like the Korean boxwood, this color change is normal during the winter months. The good news is, though many consider it unattractive, this bronzing will not kill the boxwood and they should green up again once temperatures warm up in the spring.
It is important to note that the overall bronzing of the foliage that I am talking about here is a seasonal discoloration, not winter kill. Winter kill is permanent and must be pruned out in the spring.
Trim back cold damaged branches of boxwood in March.
Winter dieback on boxwood is very different from bronzing.
Read more about boxwood bronzing on my blog, Viette's Views.
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Tip of the Month

Pruning Boxwood       


Pruning of boxwoods is done mainly to control size and shape, and to improve the health of the shrub. Annual thinning with hand shears is recognized as one of the best pruning methods for maintaining the health of the shrub. Happily, you can do this type of thinning in early winter when the trimmings can be used for holiday decorating! 

Boxwood balls are a festive holiday favorite!
Boxwood balls are a festive holiday favorite!
Pruning for Holiday greens

Boxwood is one of the best of the broadleaf evergreens to use for holiday decorating because the leaves hold their rich green color well and remain fresh for a long time. In outside arrangements, the cool temperatures keep them fresh even without water!  


To cut boxwood greens for decorating, follow the procedures outlined below for annual thinning.


Annual thinning with hand shears is recommended to open up the plant and bring air, light, and water to the interior of the shrub. This type of pruning not only reduces the incidence of disease by increasing air circulation, it also rejuvenates the plant by stimulating the production of basal buds and new interior growth.

  • Always use good quality hand shears that are sharp.
  • Reach about 6-12 inches into the interior of the shrub and prune off a branch.
  • Continue thinning but remove no more than about 10% of the outer branches.
  • When you are finished, your boxwood will still be about the same size and shape, just not as dense!

Shearing boxwood is not recommended because it stimulates growth only at the ends of the branches. Continual shearing causes the exterior of the shrub to become very dense and reduces the amount of light and air that reaches the interior of the shrub. This growth pattern is unhealthy for the plant as a whole because the lack of light and air circulation causes inner leaves to die and can also lead to an increase in disease. If you do shear your boxwood, be sure to also do some thinning afterwards to keep it from becoming too dense.


This boxwood hedge was cut back severely in March 2007.
This boxwood hedge filled out nicely just 2 years after a severe pruning.

Severe pruning of overgrown boxwood should only be done in late winter or early spring when the boxwood is dormant. They can be pruned heavily until just bare branches remain or you can even cut them back to one to two feet above the ground. The boxwood hedge in this photo taken in early April of 2009 had been cut back to about 15" from the ground in March of 2007. This type of severe pruning is not always 100% successful but a very high percentage do come back with beautiful new growth!

After severe pruning, fertilize your shrubs with Espoma Plant-tone, rock phosphate, and Greensand according to the Viette's recommendations.

Watch Mark Viette's video tips on pruning boxwood.

Holiday Decorating Workshops! 

Still Time to Sign up! 

Pre-registration is required.  

Call 800-575-5538 for more details & to register.


Choose from 4 workshop times: 


Thursday, December 5 - 10:30am  

Artistic Christmas Designs with Jef Naunchik 

Della Robbia arrangement Jef has 35 years of experience in creating beautiful artistic arrangements and displays for the holidays. Come to this great workshop and Jef will teach you some unique techniques for decorating at holiday time including a demonstration of how to flock greens. Jef will also discuss incorporating the beautiful new battery operated LED lights into his arrangements.
Learn how to make:
Della Robbia wreaths, topiary trees and miniature Christmas trees, swags with fresh greens, boxwood balls, candle rings, and more!
Learn the art of gilding, how to use a glue pot, and how to make beautiful ribbons.

Saturday, December 7 - 1:30pm
Sunday, December 8 - 1:30pm

Christmas Decorating
with Andre Viette

Andre demonstrates how to flock greens.
Andre demonstrates
how to flock greens.

Andre will demonstrate the basics of decorating for the holidays including working with greens to create attractive wreaths and table arrangements. He will also show you how to flock greens to create a glistening snow covered look. Andre also will demonstrate some easy, 5-minute decorating tips for swags and the best way to preserve magnolia leaves and branches. 

Learn about:

Preserving greens and Christmas trees, live vs. cut Christmas trees, basics of wreath making including how to make a giant 6 foot wreath, making kissing balls, creating swags and arrangements, making fresh roping.


The fee for the workshops listed above is $40.00


Each participant will take home:  

  • a bundle of evergreen boughs
  • 3 wreath rings (8", 10", & 12")
  • 1 spool of floral wire
  • 1 large oasis block
  • a 6" design bowl
  • assorted spruce & pine cones
  • a $10.00 Gift Certificate for Viette perennials to be used next season, and  
  • loads of great ideas for your holiday decorating!    

Read about these fun workshops on my blog! 


Back by Popular Demand!
Friday, December 6 - 10:30am
Miniature Garden Christmas Workshop!

A HANDS-ON workshop taught by Pam Shank of Landscapes in Miniature! 

Learn to create one of these cute Christmas-themed miniature gardens during our workshop.
Pam will teach participants how to make a miniature Christmas themed planter. With basic, minimal care, this
FOUR SEASON miniature garden can be enjoyed for months and years to come!
Participants will craft a miniature garden planter from start to finish
, receive tips and instructions, and will take home their completed planter at the end of the workshop. After the holiday season is over, simply remove the seasonal decorations. Enjoy decorating for Valentine's Day? Add a tiny heart garland to your wee tree and a tiny heart pillow to your "stone" bench. Wishing it were Spring? Add a tiny stone bunny and cheerful painted birdhouse, or a tiny American flag for Memorial Day... the possibilities are endless! 
This is a messy workshop - we will be playing in the dirt - dress accordingly, please.  

Cost of this workshop is $55.00 and includes:

  • 8 inch resin garden pot in several colors
        (participants choose color - self watering pots)
  • Quality Potting Mixture
  • Miniature mulch
  • Selection of miniature plants
  • Live miniature Christmas tree
         (several varieties to choose from)
  • Miniature decorations for the Christmas tree!
  • Miniature pebbles/gravel for path
  • Miniature furniture for garden:
    • Choice of bench or chair (choice of styles, colors)
    • Snowman Pillow or Painted Snowman
    • Miniature fence (choice of twig, white or black)
  • There will be additional miniature items available for purchase separately, if desired.
  • a $10.00 Gift Certificate for Viette perennials to be used next season  

After each workshop:  

Andre will give you a personal tour of the beautiful Viette home and gardens all decorated for the Christmas season. 

Andre's beautiful This Christmas wonderland takes Andre a full two weeks to complete and includes: 
  • A live Christmas tree with snow and colorful ornaments
  • A live Christmas tree with crystal, pearls, and crocheted ornaments
  • Loads of beautiful arrangements with live greens
  • Gold mantle arrangement
  • Antique, hand-made ornaments
  • Bell collection and colored glass collection
  • Santa collection with over 100 Santa's
  • Beautiful manger arrangement
  • Old Christmas card collection, and lots more . . .
  • Plus, many wonderful outside arrangements with beautiful greens and colorful berries combined with antique farm tools, sleighs, and sleds!
Viette Front Porch Christmas 
On the Viette's Views Gardening Blog
Fallen oak leaves cover the ground    11-22-2013 12:32:47 PM

This past weekend I spent several hours blowing the oak leaves out of our front perennial beds and off the front lawn and into the woods beside the house. The leaf cover in the back yard was much lighter so I used our mulching mower to chop them up and then used the lawn sweeper [...]...�

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Books Make Wonderful Gifts!
Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just new to the wonderful world of gardening, these great books, written by the Viettes, are an invaluable resource.

Choose from 3 different titles:

Mid-Atlantic Gardening Guide The Mid-Atlantic Gardener's Guide
This book will guide you through through the selection, planting, maintenance, and landscape use of the most beautiful, trouble-free annuals, bulbs, ground covers, perennials, shrubs, trees, and more. It is the "best of the best" for the Mid-Atlantic region. $24.99

Month-By-Month Gardening in the Mid-Atlantic
Revised MonthByMonth BookA revised edition of one of Andre's most popular books, this book is the definitive "when to . . ." that every gardener should have! It is filled with information, advice, gardening hints and projects to guide you through the gardening year - 'Month-by-Month'.
Mid-Atlantic Edition - $24.95
Special New York Edition
     for northern gardeners - $19.99 

Time-Life Complete Gardener - Perennials
This book gives garden advice, step-by-step techniques and diagrams on designing, perennial planting and maintenance, professional gardeners tips on which long blooming perennials to use, a plant section and troubleshooting guide, an encyclopedia section, and a question and answer section. $19.95

Call the nursery at 800-575-5538 to order or stop by
the nursery office in Fishersville, VA.

And while you're here, wander through our winter gardens. The Garden Center is closed for the season but Andre's gardens are always OPEN!
Got Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden'  Listen to Andre on the radio every Saturday morning from
8:00-11:00 on 
"In the Garden  
with Andre Viette"
Click for a station list or listen live on our flagship station, WSVA, in Harrisonburg, VA.
Listen to podcasts of the show.
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