Yew Hedge Restoration

Removing Vertical Growth When Restoring Yew Hedges

I’ve been working on restoring the shape to a yew hedge this week so thought it would be a good opportunity to show the importance of cutting out vertical growth. This technique applies to restoring both yew hedges and yew topiary. If a yew has been left untrimmed, or has been badly clipped in the past, then thick, long stems can start to grow up on the outside of the hedge. These will thicken over time, causing the hedge to bulge and sag. Ignoring these stems and running the hedge trimmer or shears up over this vertical growth can create…

Wibbly Wobbly Yew Hedges at Montacute House

I took the opportunity to visit Montacute House gardens when travelling home through Somerset the other day because I wanted to see in person their beautiful yew hedges. Montacute House is magnificent – a fine example of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture. The gardens would have been a formal design, with yew hedges clipped to perfect straight lines, flat tops and precise right angle corners. Although the formal layout of the gardens remain, the yew hedges are now over 4 metres high, free-form, organic shapes and affectionally called the wibbly wobbly by the Montacute House gardeners. This style of yew hedge is…

Restoring Yew Topiary Back From Tunnels to Triangles

Last week I worked on restoring some yew to their original triangular design. The yew had been allowed to grow to create two tunnels. Although a lovely idea, the yew never really knitted together sufficiently to create solid tunnels. This probably could have been achieved but it would have taken many years of careful trimming, thinning and tying in. On a practical level it was very difficult to trim the tops of the tunnels using a long reach hedge trimmer and ladders. Taking the time to set up platforms was not cost effective and this would have been difficult with…

Linking a Garden with Doorways in Hedges

Recently I have become mildly obsessed with doorways cut into hedges. I think they are a wonderful way for large gardens to link different areas. Too often hedges are seen as static features, acting as a barrier to divide one area from another. By cutting a doorway the hedge’s purpose changes and becomes an integral part of the garden design, linking rather than preventing access. And there is also something ‘Alice in Wonderland’ about them, appealing to our human nature to explore. I am lucky by living in the Cotswolds to have two gardens nearby that utilise hedge doorways with…

The Fashion for Cloud Pruned Yew Hedges

If you follow this blog or my social media profiles you may have noticed I am building a small collection of vintage gardening books. This is not intentional. I find it difficult to resist when I see an interesting antique gardening book on an online auction site and my low bids seem to be winning. One lucky acquisition was this 1904 First Edition ‘Some English Gardens’ with beautiful prints of watercolours by George S. Elgood and commentary by Gertrude Jekyll. One print that caught my eye was a watercolour titled ‘Yew Alley at Rockingham’ and painted about 1900. The yew…