Holiday Décor: Boxwood Blight and Safe Practices

December 8, 2018

Boxwood in the Bishop’s Garden in winter

With holiday decorating in full swing it is tempting to reach for beautiful boxwood clippings to augment fir and hemlock greens inside and outside our homes. The fragrance and vibrant green of boxwood are wonderful additions to swags and garlands, table trees and wreaths. Unfortunately, the current spread of boxwood blight is putting currently healthy plants at risk, and using diseased cuttings can endanger your entire garden.

We at All Hallows Guild are guided by the design watchwords of Florence Brown Bratenahl — Boxwood, Yew, and Stone. These timeless design features of our landscape are at risk. We have replaced the declining English Boxwood with American varieties and these seem somewhat more resistant to the current blight. Boxwood are one of the glories of our gardens and we practice extreme vigilance to keep them disease free.

Early view of the Bishop’s Garden – filled with boxwood

For holiday decorating, it is good practice to verify that greens you are considering are free from blight – many growers are providing this certification from state departments of agriculture or from universities. We provide the following links to help you understand the severity of this condition and to know what measures you should take to protect both your own garden and those of your neighbors.

We wish you happy, safe and blight-free holidays!

Best Management Practices for Boxwood Blight – from the Virginia Cooperative Extension

Boxwood Blight Update – Saunders Brothers, October 2018

Winter scene in the Bishop’s Garden with a row of snow-covered boxwood


Boxwood along the upper path in the Bishop’s Garden -March 2018


All Hallows Guild was founded in 1916 to provide for the care and beautification of the grounds of Washington National Cathedral. The Guild works closely with the horticultural staff to preserve this historic landscape and raises funds for renovation and renewal of the gardens.


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  • 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20016


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