Damn shame boxwoods

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,561
Reaction score
9,716
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
The folks down at Gunston Hall (George Mason's plantation on Mason Neck near D.C.) decided to "rejuvenate" the boxwood garden at the site. They are "returning" it to its "original" 18th century appearance.
https://gunstonhall.org/house-grounds/the-grounds/current-day-information/

In doing so, they've removed ALL of those ancient "dwarf" boxwood that were original to the house because they were in decline and too big for the landscape plans.

The move to redesign the garden has been debated for a decade. It was only yesterday that I heard from a friend who works at nearby Mt. Vernon they went ahead and dug all of those old boxwood out.

I don't know what's become of all those old plants, but I'm trying to find out. What a damn shame. I had asked repeatedly at Gunston about their fate over the last six or seven years, didn't get much response, other than the "WTF?" looks from staff.

Anyway, here's what was dug out:

dwarfbox1.jpgdwarfbox2.jpgdwarfbox3.jpgdwarfbox6.jpgdwarfbox5.jpgdwarfbox4.jpg
 

mcpesq817

Omono
Messages
1,796
Reaction score
452
Location
VA
USDA Zone
7
Unreal - hope they at least relocated them.
 

plant_dr

Chumono
Messages
676
Reaction score
513
Location
Orem, UT
USDA Zone
5
My Mt. Vernon contact didn't have much detail, but it sounded like they wound up on a trash heap somewhere...If that's true, I have to find the trash heap, quick.
Looks like the closest landfill to Mason Neck is Rainwater landfill, maybe try them?
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,561
Reaction score
9,716
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Looks like the closest landfill to Mason Neck is Rainwater landfill, maybe try them?
I'm not convinced they sent the plants to the dump--and Fairfax county recycling center is a more likely place if they did--it's huge and is literally a mountain of garbage...

I have a feeling the landscape contractor might still have them...
 

plant_dr

Chumono
Messages
676
Reaction score
513
Location
Orem, UT
USDA Zone
5
I'm not convinced they sent the plants to the dump--and Fairfax county recycling center is a more likely place if they did--it's huge and is literally a mountain of garbage...

I have a feeling the landscape contractor might still have them...
Yeah
 

Cosmos

Shohin
Messages
293
Reaction score
441
Location
Montréal
USDA Zone
5/6
For what it’s worth, the wood alone on these would be worth a pretty penny, I don’t know what uses in terms of woodworking it would be good for, but boxwood is REALLY hard wood with beautiful colour.

These looks too big to be practically grown in a pot, but similarly-shaped wild boxwoods are collected in France and they make fantastic bonsai, stuff like this:

 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,561
Reaction score
9,716
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
For what it’s worth, the wood alone on these would be worth a pretty penny, I don’t know what uses in terms of woodworking it would be good for, but boxwood is REALLY hard wood with beautiful colour.

These looks too big to be practically grown in a pot, but similarly-shaped wild boxwoods are collected in France and they make fantastic bonsai, stuff like this:

They're not too big. I've Seen them in person many times. A few of them would be PERFECT in a pot ;-). They might be "they're so ugly they're beautiful" trees, but they also have history. They were planted by George Mason...FWIW, there are other boxwoods of similar age around here (and these are well over 260 years old). But none with quite the same character and certainly not the same history. These were originally shipped from England...That is half their charm, along with those fantastic single trunks.

I have no real hope of finding them alive at this point. But I could get lucky, who knows.
 
Last edited:

plant_dr

Chumono
Messages
676
Reaction score
513
Location
Orem, UT
USDA Zone
5
Did you ever pursue this any further ?
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
8,561
Reaction score
9,716
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Did you ever pursue this any further ?
Yes. I've heard back from the estate. They said the work has yet to be done as the contract for the landscape has just been awarded. The estate said it plans on using the carcasses to make bowls and other stuff out of the wood. They also said they took numerous cuttings from the shrubs to use at the site in the future.

I've emailed back asking if they'd be interested in contacting the curator at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum about the boxwood. I always find it hard not to sound like a lunatic when trying to explain bonsai and old plants to people who aren't familiar with the subject. I know it can sound like I'm some kind of Crazy Cat Lady.

I also emailed the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum telling them that 300 year old boxwoods with two foot diameter trunks are being put in the trash bin only 13 miles away...
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
Messages
10,332
Reaction score
23,025
Location
B’ham, AL
USDA Zone
8A
Yes. I've heard back from the estate. They said the work has yet to be done as the contract for the landscape has just been awarded. The estate said it plans on using the carcasses to make bowls and other stuff out of the wood. They also said they took numerous cuttings from the shrubs to use at the site in the future.

I've emailed back asking if they'd be interested in contacting the curator at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum about the boxwood. I always find it hard not to sound like a lunatic when trying to explain bonsai and old plants to people who aren't familiar with the subject. I know it can sound like I'm some kind of Crazy Cat Lady.

I also emailed the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum telling them that 300 year old boxwoods with two foot diameter trunks are being put in the trash bin only 13 miles away...
Good, maybe there is a chance a few can be preserved as living Bonsai in pots.
 

plant_dr

Chumono
Messages
676
Reaction score
513
Location
Orem, UT
USDA Zone
5
Good to know they will be preserved in various ways. Thanks for the update!
 

augustine

Chumono
Messages
654
Reaction score
486
Location
Pasadena, MD
USDA Zone
7A
Find and call one of the big bosses and explain it is a way of preserving historical plants and offer them a bonsai for the estate. Explain the process and that it may be a few years before they actually have the plant but you'll keep them apprised. A few photos and paragraphs a couple of times a year should do it. Make it about them. Do it and deliver a bonsai, even if rough, asap. You could always go down and train it now and then.

A worker bee would never consider such a thing but a boss might.
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom