Columnar English YewTaxus baccata 'Erecta' (= 'Fastigiata')
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Taxus baccata 'Erecta' (= 'Fastigiata')
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
The Columnar English Yew is the perfect tree to create a dramatic year-round accent in shade or sun. It always looks rich and full, and always deep green. It grows tall and slim, and it stays dense and neat throughout its life. Grow it as an accent in shady beds, as a pair to frame a door or entrance, or as a narrow hedge in a confined space. For a very formal look it is easy to trim, but even untrimmed it will look perfect. It grows well in zones 6, 7 and 8. For colder areas choose Hicks Yew, a hardier hybrid plant, or forms of the Japanese yew.
The Columnar English Yew grows well in almost any kind of soil, except for wet soils with poor drainage. Once established it is moderately drought resistant, but watering during long dry periods is recommended. It normally has no pest or disease problems, and it grows steadily as much as 12 inches a year. This tree has a very long life, becoming more beautiful and handsome as time passes. It needs no maintenance to always look perfect. Every garden needs vertical accents to complete the picture, and this is a top choice for almost any location.
Bold, evergreen plants with a strong upright habit make great additions to any garden. These green columns make perfect accents, or frame doorways and openings, as well as giving a feeling of permanence and stability to your garden. Sometimes you can achieve this with fast-growing plants by regularly trimming them, but a better long-term strategy is to use plants that are naturally dense and upright, and that form perfect columns without the need for regular trimming. This low-maintenance approach means a lot less work in the garden, and a lot more time to simply relax and enjoy it. For the perfect dark-green column, look no further than the Columnar English Yew. This classic tree has a long history, and it can be seen in some of the most famous gardens in the world, as well as in ordinary gardens everywhere. It is tolerant of almost all light conditions, from sun to shade, and grows well in any well-drained soil.
The Columnar English Yew grows steadily into a narrow, upright bush with such tight foliage that clipping is strictly optional. In normal garden conditions it will add 6 to 12 inches of growth each year, so that in 10 years it can be as much as 10 feet tall, yet it will only be about 2 feet wide, with a columnar form, rather than a tapering narrow conical form. That is, the top will be approximately the same width as the base. Older trees grow more slowly, but in time this tree can become 30 feet tall, and still be only 3 or 4 feet wide. The leaves are soft, and narrow, about 1 ½ inches long, and tightly packed around the stems. Older trees will often produce a large crop of bright red fleshy berries in fall, about ½ an inch across. The flesh is sweet and tasty, but the seeds are poisonous if crushed, so avoid eating them, and teach children to leave them alone. The leaves are also poisonous and should be kept away from horses and cattle.
The Columnar English Yew is perfect as a specimen plant in a lawn or paved area, especially in smaller spaces. It brings height and permanence, while taking up very little width, and it will never grow too large. Unlike many other upright evergreens that can become fat, this tree remains slim and upright forever. Plant a pair to frame an entrance, such as a doorway or garden gate. Place specimens alone, or in groups of 3 or 5, as accents in your beds or in the background of lower plantings. For a narrow hedge in a tight location, this is an excellent choice. Plant trees no more than 2 feet apart, and they can be clipped into a beautiful and very dense hedge over time.
The Columnar English Yew will grow well in full sun in cooler regions, but like other yew trees it is best used in partially-shaded areas where the choice of trees is much more limited. Yew is an excellent choice for shade, keeping its strong green color and dense growth in all but the shadiest locations. It grows well in zone 6 and in warmer zones too, at least into zone 8. In colder zones, choose the Japanese yew and its varieties, or a hybrid yew, such as Hicks Yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’). These are all hardy in zone 5, and often in zone 4 as well.
Grow the Columnar English Yew in moist, well-drained soil. Although it is a reliable and easy tree to grow, it does not like to be grow in places where the soil is often saturated, so good-drainage is essential. Once established it has moderate drought-resistance to ordinary periods of dryness. Pests and diseases are very rare, and this is a reliable and easily-grown plant that needs no attention once it is established.
The English yew is found naturally all over Europe, north Africa and into Turkey and western Asia. In hotter regions it is found only in mountainous areas where the summers are cooler. It has a long history of use, particularly for making bows, including the famous English longbow once used in battles. It was often grown in churchyards, since these were the only places where grazing animals could not reach it, as the foliage and seeds are poisonous. There are separate male and female trees, and female trees carry fleshy red berries containing a seed, not the cones we would expect from a conifer, which this is.
Over the centuries different forms have been selected, and one of the most famous is the Irish Yew, an upright tree found growing wild by a certain farmer, Mr. Willis, who found it growing wild in the hills above his farm in Fermanagh, Ireland. A few years after he found it, he dug it up and planted it in his garden. This was in 1780, and pieces were taken and distributed far and wide. As well, seedlings of this female tree have been grown, and some have a similar habit. These are sometimes given different names, including ‘Erecta’ and ‘Hibernica’, but all have the same narrow, upright form.
Our trees of this classic plant are produced from stem pieces, to carefully preserve the upright habit, as seeds are variable. Avoid cheaper plants, as they will usually not have the dense, upright habit of this great plant. The demand for shade-loving evergreens is always very high, as every garden has shady places to fill. Order now, as our top-quality stock will soon be gone.
The best time to plant a Columnar English Yew is in the early spring or fall. This allows the tree to establish its root system in moderate temperatures before the heat of summer or the chill of winter. However, as a hardy plant, it can tolerate planting at other times of the year, provided it is watered appropriately and protected from extreme weather conditions.
The Columnar English Yew does not require frequent watering, thanks to its moderate drought resistance. However, during long dry periods, it is recommended to water the tree thoroughly. The soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings to prevent waterlogging, as the tree prefers well-drained soil. In general, a deep watering once a week should be sufficient, but this may need to be increased during particularly hot or dry periods.
While it is possible to start a Columnar English Yew in a pot, it is not the best long-term option for this tree. Given its potential height of up to 30 feet and its steady growth rate, the Columnar English Yew will eventually outgrow a pot. If you wish to keep a Columnar English Yew in a pot, you will need to regularly prune and root prune the tree to control its size, which can be a significant undertaking.
One of the great advantages of the Columnar English Yew is its resistance to pests and diseases. It is not typically bothered by common garden pests or diseases. However, it’s worth noting that the leaves and seeds of the Columnar English Yew are poisonous, so it’s important to keep pets and small children away from the tree.
Yes, the Columnar English Yew is known for its ability to tolerate a range of conditions, including urban pollution. It is a good choice for urban gardens or streetscapes where other trees may struggle. However, it’s important to ensure that the tree is planted in well-drained soil, as it does not tolerate waterlogged conditions.
The Columnar English Yew is a versatile tree that can be used in a variety of ways in landscape design. Its tall, slim growth habit makes it an excellent choice for creating vertical accents in your garden. It can be used to frame a door or entrance, or planted in a row to create a narrow, elegant hedge. Its dense, neat growth also makes it a great choice for shady beds where it can provide year-round interest.
One of the great advantages of the Columnar English Yew is its low maintenance requirements. It naturally grows in a dense, neat manner, so it doesn’t require regular pruning to look its best. However, if you prefer a very formal look, the tree is easy to trim. Aside from occasional watering during dry periods and ensuring it is planted in well-drained soil, the Columnar English Yew requires little care.
Yes, the Columnar English Yew is generally considered to be deer resistant. This is largely due to the fact that the leaves and seeds of the tree are poisonous. However, it’s worth noting that ‘deer resistant’ does not mean ‘deer proof’. In areas with high deer populations or during particularly harsh winters, deer may still browse on the tree.
Yes, the Columnar English Yew can be used as a windbreak. Its tall, slim growth habit and dense foliage make it an effective barrier against wind. However, due to its narrow form, it would need to be planted in a row or combined with other trees and shrubs to create an effective windbreak.
The Columnar English Yew grows at a steady rate of about 12 inches per year. Given this growth rate, it can take several decades for the tree to reach its maximum height of 30 feet. However, the tree will start to have a significant presence in your garden within a few years of planting.