This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
This subject is so well understood that scarcely anything needs to be written about it. Still as the present is a good time (if not done sooner) for renewing old„ or making new box edgings to walks, etc., that perhaps a few notes thereon may do no harm. Box edgings may be made either in April, August, or September, or during November.
No edgings of any other kind can exceed the box in neatness and utility, although various experiments have been made with numerous other things. Box should not be planted in frosty weather; and this operation is best performed when the soil is in a nice workable condition, as when done during wet weather the the lines of box cannot be put in so straight nor the plants firmed so well as is desirable.
The ground where the edging is to be inserted should be neatly dug the depth of the spade, and all large stones taken out, as when they are allowed to remain they afterwards prove troublesome in the operation of opening the cut. This should then be hardened by running over it a heavy roller, then raked firm, and after that trodden down firmly and evenly with the feet-I need not say the site for the box should be perfectly even throughout as otherwise irregularities will appear when the edgings are finished. A. garden-line will then be stretched along the prepared position and tightened to its utmost tension; then take out a cut or trench, the depth of which will be regulated by the height of the pieces of box to be inserted. This trench should be made in a slightly sloping manner, and it should be so managed that the pieces of box to be put in should not require a greater depth of cut than six or seven inches.
In preparing the pieces for planting it is well if a few rootlets can be secured to each, but the strong, woody roots' must be cut off so that all may be somewhat even in size and height, and if possible of a fan shape. Thus, when all are in position they will appear of equal thickness and stature. In many cases roots cannot be got to the base of the portions to be inserted in the ground; but this need not be a source of discouragement, for cuttings of it root quickly and may be placed just in the same way as if rooted. It is well to have a considerable heap of prepared pieces, either rooted or otherwise, in readiness before the process of laying commences, as a smart hand will lay in a long stretch of edging in a short time; and it is better - as I said before - if by any possibility it can be accomplished, to finish the whole process in dry weather.
In laying in the plants from an inch and a half to two inches will be sufficient to leave exposed above the soil, unless for some special purpose a greater show of it is desirable at once. One sprig may just touch its neighbor and no more, which will be a sufficient thickness. In covering in the cut after planting, the clay should be firmly pressed in - not directly downwards, but in an oblique direction against the plants of box. When all is filled into the trench, the soil will need to be firmed evenly and well; and it is a good practice to repeat the firming process in a couple of days time, weather and all else permitting. All superfluous clay must then be cleanly removed, and the walk neatly re-covered with the gravel which had been put aside before planting, etc., commenced, taking care not to stifle the box plants during this operation. - J. G, in Gardener's Record.