The Yew is at the heart of more famous hedges than any other hedging plant, not least in the extraordinary gardens at Powis Castle…
The Yew Hedge
The gardens were stated in the early 1670s when the terraces were dug from the rock. The person in charge was Adrian Duvall from Rouen, probably asssisted by William Winde. Work continued for decades with 14 Yews being planted in the 1720s and then clipped obsessively for over a 100 years – the result, called The Tumps, can be seen in the bottom picture. Yes, that really is 14 individual trees that have fused together over the centuries and now form passages and arches across the paths that lie behind them.
Yews are on display elsewhere in the grounds where you’ll also find a 14m high formal Yew Hedge of similar age. While it is less visually surprising, this Yew Hedge is just as spectacular and there can be no other garden where the possibilities and variety of Hedge growing is so remarkably demonstrated.
Yew Hedge – History
The formal style of gardening originated in 16th century Italy and soon made its way to Britain. The terracing and formal clipped Yew Hedge at Powis are typical of this approach that had dominated garden design for around 200 years. However, in the second half of the 18th century, Capability Brown led a movement against formality and many a landowner employed Brown and other like-minded landscapers to remodel their formal gardens. Powis Castle escaped their attention. It is therefore one of only a handful of places in the UK way you can still enjoy the splendour of a Baroque garden. In the early 1900s, Violet, the wife of the fourth Earl, restored and improved the gardens with great sensitivity that are now looked after by the National Trust and definitely worth a visit.