Yew (Taxus baccata) is the classic British "King" hedging plant for creating a formal evergreen hedge or topiary. With its dark green narrow leathery leaves the Yew also makes an excellent backdrop to any herbaceous border. Yew can be hard pruned and is an excellent plant for shaping and clipping to desired requirements.
Yew hedge plants are slow growing and easily maintained, requiring clipping once a year in late summer to maintain a dense hedge. Trim Yew plants side shoots leaving the main stem until the height of desired hedge is reached, this provides a denser growth. Water well when young and in dry spells.
The Yew bears small red fruits which are attractive to birds. However, the leaves are poisonous making the Yew unsuitable for hedging where there are animals grazing.
The Yew is shade tolerant but does not like waterlogged soil. Yew grows faster when young, water well until established, then Yew becomes a tidy hedge which will last for a very long time.
Taxus baccata can reach 400 to 600 years of age. Some specimens live longer but the age of yews is often overestimated. The yew is often found in churchyards in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and northern areas of Spain.
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