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Yews (foundation) - topiary candidates?

Posted by melanie_c MD (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 5, 07 at 17:30

I have some yews planted around my house - quite a few of them, all the same globular, flat-topped shape. The house was built in the 1960s and I would hazard a guess that they were planted quite a long time ago. Questions - can I move them, if so when is the best time? Does anyone have experience of clipping mature specimens like this into topiary - I am thinking I can vary the shapes and perhaps create a couple of cubes rather than blobs. Is it too late for spirals?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Yews (foundation) - topiary candidates?

First of all, don't move them. They'll die. Any mature tree or shrub usually do not do very well to transplanting not unless you hire a professional to do the job.

Second, what shapes are you interested in. Yews are probably the original candidates for topiaries. Check the web for examples of topiary gardens.

Spirals are only good if you have one major trunk and I can imagine these bushes being over 40 odd years old, would have lots of branches. It won't be a good candidate for a spiral.

I would suggest that instead you do some pleaching. - that is to try to reveal the trunk or trunks and branches. You can shape the tops area in squares, rectangles, domes, whatever you like. Look up the term pleaching and you would know what I mean.


RE: Yews (foundation) - topiary candidates?

I have the same question as Melanie. My yews in the front are probably 30-40 years old, don't clean up well, are way too big for the house and are just boring and old-fashioned looking. Lately I have seen similar sized yews that have about 6-8 bare branches coming from the base with pom poms on the end. Could I try that with my old yew or is that treatment "from birth?" Thank for any insight and Happy Labor Day.

RE: Yews (foundation) - topiary candidates?

  • Posted by perlite z6, southern IN (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 6, 08 at 13:04

Well. I would be a third on that one. My "new" fixer is surrounded by 1960's era yews, including the foundation and a hedge that suffocates the walk. So far I have done shearing to the hedge that defines the individual shrubs, but I have considered shaping those into a single caterpillar or a row of turtles. I also want to bring up the base as you suggest above to show the basal branches. Perhaps I should do this with all them.
It is my impression that, unlike conifers, Taxus will sprout from leafless branches. I have seen some pretty deeply pruned plants among formal gardens in progress (both at Longwood and at Filoli). Also, a few of the shrubs were cut to the ground prior to my movein, and they keep sprouting up from the stumps. (Haven't had time to pull them out, but that's on the list.) So, I find them pretty hard to kill.

RE: Yews (foundation) - topiary candidates?

I had been trying to figure out what would be best for the sheep topiary I'm planning. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself!! Ewe/Yew. It's perfect!

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