The U.S. National Arboretum’s National Boxwood Collection is one of the most complete collections of boxwood in the world. There are currently over 350 unique accessions representing over 180 distinct taxa planted within the Arboretum.
Many are surprised to learn that development of boxwood varieties for our gardens has been going strong well beyond the Colonial period they are most often associated with. The National Boxwood Collection highlights some of the work in this area, in the last hundred years, including exploration trips undertaken in the Balkans that ultimately gave us the beautiful and hardy variety ‘Vardar Valley’. Much of the history of the collection is rooted in former Arboretum Director Henry Skinner’s work with boxwood prior to serving as Director and a long association with boxwood nurseries in the region.
Significant efforts have recently been dedicated to investigate the genetic relationships within the genus Buxus, and to identify and develop new cultivars that exhibit improved tolerance to boxwood blight, caused by the fungus, Calonectria pseudonaviculata.