Taxus baccata – topiary
English Yew, European Yew
The classic smart topiary plant, marvellously tolerant of sun or shade in any well drained soil. The luxurious dark green foliage clips to very smooth shapes and provides excellent evergreen structure to any garden.
Taxus baccata are found native to central, western and southern Europe (including the UK) as well as Northern Iran, south west Asia and north west Africa. There are lots of extremely ancient specimens in Britain, usually found in graveyards.
The dark bold forms of yew topiary have been used in classic symmetrical arrangements and specimen planters to give structure to formal garden designs for hundreds of years. More recently, contemporary designers have also started to use them as strong anchoring foils in the midst of softer perennial planting.
Birds are able to eat the red ‘aril’ flesh of the fruit and aid seed dispersal, however it is worth noting that every other part of the plant is considered very toxic including the seed. On the flip side, chemicals found in yew clippings have been used to develop powerful chemotherapy drugs to fight cancer.
Care & Size Guidance
It is advisable to clip once or twice a season back to the old cut marks if you want to keep the plant to its original size. Make sure you are not pruning too early in the spring or too close to autumn, as a surprise frost could discolour the new growth.