Perhaps it’s from years of seeing landscaping firms adding large beds of mulch (with few plants) and pruning shrubs into submission that has many homeowners believing that their property is in tip-top shape if it looks like the shopping mall’s grounds.
The tight shearing of all too many shrubs is a common sight and a horticultural practice we are trying to end. Is there a time when tightly pruned boxwoods look perfect? Of course. Any formal English garden benefits from a well manicured hedge. However, that doesn't translate to all shrubs looking their best when turned into little balls or squares.
It’s hard to admit, but nature is the best gardener. We are simply trying to add our influence to the landscape. When forsythia is trimmed into a rectangle, the entire point of selecting such shrub is lost. The forsythia is an upright-arching shrub that should have movement and add a looser shape to the garden.
Boxwoods look best, too, when left a bit loose. Of course rouge, or what I call wild-hair branches are trimmed. Tending to the shrub with hand pruners creates a soft, natural look to the plant that can be gently shaped to evoke a more formal form if so desired.
We are encouraging homeowners to experience their shrubs in a more natural state, if only for a year. More often than not, the looser look of the plant appeals to the homeowner. -- Jennifer