There are certain plants that define the English garden – plants that every garden can and should include. As we have been suggesting over the last few blogs, the Yew is surely one such plant. It is, after all, our only truly native shrub. But not every garden or gardener has the space or time to plant a traditional Yew hedge…
Our final look at the Yew in this series is therefore aimed primarily at those who either want to keep their Yew(s) portable or who, whether by desire, necessity or a heavy clay soil, are looking to minimise the work required. Fortunately, the Yew makes an excellent specimen plant perfectly at home in a properly prepared container.
If you want no more than a single, specimen Yew tree, you will need a container with at least a 1m diameter. Ensure there are drainage holes at the bottom before adding at least 15cm of grit and/or crocks at the bottom and then filling with good quality, open compost (80%0 with bark (20%) mixed in. This will help prevent waterlogging. Fill up to 10cm from the top of the container. As with any container plant, feeding will be required – the easiest way is to use slow-release granules. Simply follow the instructions on the pack. If you have planted the Yew in fresh compost, you won’t need to add any feed for 6-8 weeks. Water in the spring and summer, particularly during periods of drought and/or intense sunshine but never in the full glare of the sun – wait until evening. Remember, the biggest avoidable threat to a Yew is waterlogging, though regular, controlled watering will increase its growth rate. As for pruning, the best time is late summer but stray leaf stems can be safely clipped back at any time during the growing season. The only other task is to top dress every spring.
Smaller Yews can also be grown in containers – any pot with a diameter of at least 35cm will make a permanent home for a Yew maintained to a height of 100cm or less. Follow the advice above for Yews in larger container s. Yews in smaller containers can be used for edging as a minimal labour alternative to-planting directly into the ground. And regardless of size, any container grown Yew will be perfect for any would-be topiarist – but that’s another story.
In short, every garden and every gardener can find the space and time for a Yew!