..the secret life of daydreams..

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Tag Archives: potager

the yew


I have a thing for yew hedges. They are, in my eyes, the perfect landscaping hedge: hardy, tolerant of sun and shade, and with a narrow growth habit and an ability to flush green growth from old wood  which makes them very simple to trim. They will also last for many decades (or more, there is a yew hedge in England that is 300 years old!) if well cared for.

Then there is the visual. With that dark green foliage, yews make a beautiful backdrop to flowers and other vegetation.

I also suspect there is an emotional tie to the yew for me. I have a great love of English gardens, and wandering the elegant estate gardens in the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire with Justin several years ago established my resolve to one day incorporate yews into an eventual garden.


So, when we started talking about redoing our vegetable garden, on the top of my list was a yew hedge for the east side of the garden. It will provide a visual backdrop for everything else in the garden, but it also serves a functional purpose in that a hedge will create a windbreak for some of the prevailing breezes we tend to receive from the interior. My goal is to create a sheltered micro-climate within the space of my garden so that some of my more “gentle” plants can thrive.

The downside is that yews are frightfully expensive. They are typically priced about $10 a foot in vertical height, so planting a five foot tall hedge can easily run you $50 a plant. And when I wanted a 60 foot long hedge, that proved to be too pricey. We considered the more wallet friendly cedar as an alternative, but I knew I would be disappointed by that decision in the years to come. So I did some digging on the Internet and found a local grower who was willing to sell us little 12 inch starts for five dollars each. We went with the varietal of the H.M. Eddie Yew as it presented with the right growth habit for our needs.


Compromising with little starts like this means employing some patience, as it won’t look like what I imagined for many years to come, but that is alright, because gardening is all about investing in the future. As Audrey Hepburn famously said once, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”





So in yet another make work project for ourselves, the backyard veggie patch is getting a makeover. And by makeover I mean a complete reconstruction…

What have I done…


the plans

The goal is that while we will have to put in a lot of effort now, it will ideally be less work in the future. How? automatic irrigation (thanks to my ever patient husband), and raised beds that will keep more weeds out. Also, the grass is getting turfed. Out. Done. It’s a pain to mow and while I admit I prefer the look of a neatly clipped and trimmed grass walk, it’s just way too much work to be worth it.

Add in a new yew hedge and the relocation of basically every existing tree and shrub, and I will have my dream potager garden that has been inspired by some of the amazing gardens I’ve walked through in Europe.

We started work already last summer, but didn’t get too far before the rains of autumn hit, which were followed by an unusual cold snap through December and most of January. While we had hoped to be farther along by now, this pause is giving me a chance to catch up on here before we keep going outside. Stay tuned!