May 3, 2010


Written by Carolyngail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago All rights reserved

Taxus media 'densiforma '

The poor, much-maligned yew. Does my love and defense of them come from being the "underdog " or middle child? 

 The general public's dislike of yews no doubt comes from the overgrown, untended foundation shrubs that dot so many landscapes.  When I recommend them to shoppers at the garden center they turn up their noses and most say they'd just finished ripping some out.

I've found that when customers see the yews with their fresh, minty-lime color growth in the Spring they can't recognize it .  And then I tell them that if they let them grow to their full potential  ( 4 ' tall x 6' wide ) they need very little maintenance and look very natural.  

I attended a lecture by renown garden designer John Brookes in which he said that Americans don't use the Yew enough in their gardens, and don't seem to know how to.  Who said that yews have to be lined up like soldiers ?  I saw a lot of designers roll their eyes in disdain but I smiled in agreement. 

In winter its lush, deep green brightens the bleakness, and each Spring I marvel as it dons its chartreuse coat that dazzles the eye and delights the heart.


  1. are absolutely right about the yew. At Christmas, it provides foliage for our wreaths and arrangements. This is a sturdy, tolerant and hardy plant. Great to hear a cheer for them!

  2. I agree Carolyn. I have I have Taxus Everlow on the side of my home and they are just lovely now with all of the light green new growth.

    The yews in the front are not as pretty. They were here when we moved in so I do not know the variety.


  3. 4' tall? Ours are getting close to 15 or 20!

    Of course, I think they are over 100 years old (the house is from the 1860s) and from the straight structure I'd guess they've never been trimmed.

    I'm trying to turn them into trees by pruning away the lower branches and needles so we can see out the windows - the tops are over the roof anyway. I just love the bark on the multiple 'trunks' very scaly and deeply textured. They are so far past overgrown that I think they've become beautiful again.


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