Virtual Tour


They are all boxwood. A boxwood is a type of evergreen shrub that most people know as the traditional formal shrub that George Washington had at Mt. Vernon, his home in Virginia. It's the shrub behind the bench in this picture of the gardens at Mt. Vernon:

Picture of boxwood at Mt. Vernon
Picture of boxwood at Mt. Vernon.

Boxwood isn't native (wasn't here before people were) to the United States, but it was very popular in the formal gardens that Europeans were familiar with before coming to America. They brought the idea of using boxwood in the garden with them—and they brought the plants with them, too. But there are a lot more kinds of boxwood than the typical round or hedge ones from colonial times. Today, there are hundreds of types of boxwood and the Arboretum has over 150 of them. These are only 3 examples. Which one might look nice at your home or school?

Bonus fact:
The name boxwood comes from the fact that ladies in ancient times kept their precious jewelry in boxes made from the thick stems of this very hard-wooded shrub. Here's a picture of a ruler made out of boxwood. In the days when rulers were made only of wood, boxwood was a popular wood to use because it didn't expand and contract like other softer woods. That made it a good choice for a precision instrument like a ruler.


How to find boxwood at the Arboretum:
There's a whole collection dedicated to this shrub. It's called the National Boxwood Collection, and is the largest collection of different types of boxwood in the world. Walk through it to see how many different shapes and sizes you can count.

Scientific name for boxwood: Buxus

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Last Updated   July 10, 2009 9:43 AM