Maybe twenty-five years ago, I sat next to a venerable and elegantly-dressed gentleman at a garden-related dinner party and admired the sprig of boxwood in his lapel, its tiny dark green leaves edged and dipped irregularly in creamy white. I asked him for its name, Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegantissima,’ he replied. He said it grew in his garden, and I immediately wanted this unusual (to me) boxwood in mine. Shortly thereafter I found and planted a tiny rooted cutting, which is now a presence in our small yellow garden, having grown to a height of about six feet. It adds a lively light touch to the garden. We do not protect it this time of year and, so far, it has survived all the vagaries of winter weather. I love to cut long inside branches of it for winter bouquets, and in this way I give it an annual pruning as we are supposed to do to bring more light and air into the center of the bush. 

Do admit. Hydrangeas add punch to the garden with their blowsy blooms from summer right through fall and into winter, their fat plumes turning from green to chalk white to pink to rose to buff. Of course I am referring to the Hydrangea paniculata hybrids such as ‘Limelight,’ ‘Tardiva,’ Quickfire,’ and ‘Little Lamb.’ From August on, I depend on them for my big bouquet in the library, their showy blooms mixing well with flowers from the meadow and garden such as the tiny-flowered black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba, and sprays of goldenrod, or, as now, the berries of autumn. Right now, I have a pitcher of ‘Limelight” mixed with branches of Viburnum dilatatum ‘Erie’ behind the library sofa. This viburnum is at its showiest right now with masses of tiny deep red berries littering the 8′ shrubs. The leaves are deep green and leathery, touched with bronze by the end of this month. Even after the leaves have dropped the fruit will linger, finally eaten by visiting birds.