‘Yew’ Make My Heart Go Giddy Up!

Yew pruning

Topiary can be used to create very different feels to a garden. It can create a formal feel, as with knot gardens and parterres. Or it can create a more relaxed and playful feel, great examples of which include the gardens of Levens Hall in Cumbria and Marqueyssac in the Dordogne, France.



Many plants lend themselves to being ‘topiarised’, but the most common plants used for topiary are Box and Yew. These plants work well as living sculptures because they are evergreen, with small leaves, dense foliage and most importantly they respond well to repeated pruning.

One example of topiary at Trinity Hall is a lollipop shaped Yew (Taxus baccata) located to the rear of Wychfield house, on the left hand side. In recent weeks this tree has had a significant trim!

The Yew was a good shape, but it was getting rather large. This autumn we decided to reduce the size of the Yew to allow for easier maintenance in the coming years. We wished to keep the lollipop shape, but reduce the length of branches by around a third. Yew is a very forgiving plant, and will often sprout from the trunk as well as the branches when pruned. As and when this Yew sprouts, we will trim the growth to create the shape, size and look we desire, so keep your eyes peeled for how this living sculpture develops.