Japanese Boxwood and Mexican Orange Shrubs

Also known as Buxus microphylla or littleleaf boxwood, the Japanese boxwood is a favorite in formal gardens and topiaries, but they look nice in my somewhat less formal garden! They’re the two squarish shrubs up front. This native of Japan enjoys the shade!

Mexican orange, also known as Choisya ternata, produces sweet-smelling flowers and also produces a more formal look. A native of Mexico, this shrub is the long, rectangular hedge in the center right, as well as the rounded “bush” in the center left. They grow in full sun. They’re trimmed somewhat regularly to keep them neat-looking, but occasionally, they’re left to grow a bit more and allow more flowers to emerge, sending bees a-buzzing!

Shrubs, in general, are the central elements of a garden. Sure, annuals, perennials, and other “showier” plants can be introduced into a garden, but in terms of garden design, these are the permanent players in a seemingly ever-changing cast. By themselves, shrubs provide a quiet elegance to a garden – I know they do mine, without accompaniment of supporting players.

When I bought my house many years ago, I was struck by the many established shrubs. It seemed to me that they were the link that tied the house and the exterior landscape into one harmonious unit. They conveyed the message of “home” to me. Especially if you’re starting a garden from scratch, and if you have the space, selecting a few of these foundational plants can be a great place to start.

Recommended Reading:  O’Sullivan, Penelope. (1999). Ortho’s All About Shrubs and Hedges. Des Moines, Iowa: Meredith Books.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: Boxwood can be poisonous if ingested and may cause skin problems. More information on toxic plants can be found here:



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