Goodbye to Yew, and Other Developments

Downsizing the Yew.

When I was a kid, my family sometimes took vacations at a cabins-on-a-lake-in-the-woods sort of resort. I remember that at the gift shop they sold a t-shirt that said “I Pine Fir Yew and Balsam, Too”. Anybody else remember a t-shirt like that?

Here's a picture I took of the Japanese Yew with my camera. The photos in this post are all mine, Judy's been travelling for her job.
Here’s a picture I took of the Japanese Yew with my phone. The photos in this post are all mine, Judy’s been travelling for her job.

Anyhow, I decided to prune the big Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) in the back garden last weekend for two reasons. First, it was climbing up into the power/telephone wires that are strung along the alley. And second, I noticed that the leader of the new and nearby ‘Golden Raindrops’ crabapple was leaning away from the Yew, which probably meant it was getting too much shade from its neighbor.

Corona folding saw. I gotta say, it worked like a dream. Small but mighty.
Corona folding saw. I gotta say, it worked like a dream. Small but mighty.

So I got my loppers and my nifty little Corona folding saw (swag from the Portland Garden Bloggers Conference) and went to work.

Now, I should say that we don’t really like this Yew, and have been tempted to get rid of it. It’s dark and hulking and boring – it just stands there, doesn’t fruit or flower or change color or anything. Although, it’s a good screen for a section of the alley. Plus it’s the only evergreen we have, and the birds like to hang out in it.

Here's the side of the Yew facing the 'Golden Raindrops' crabapple.
Here’s the side of the Yew facing the ‘Golden Raindrops’ crabapple.

My intent was not to give the Yew a flat top haircut. Rather, I wanted to find the stems that were either giving the most shade to ‘Golden Raindrops’ or messing with the wires.

I really love pruning, it’s very satisfying. Once I got going, I was sorely tempted to keep at it until there were only a couple of stumps left. But I restrained myself, and finished after about 1/3 of the Yew was removed.

Here's an After picture. Some stems are still as tall as the wires, but they are growing in front of and not through the wires.
Here’s an After picture. Some stems are still as tall as the wires, but they are growing in front of and not through the wires. Sorry these shots aren’t better, it’s not easy to see the changes.

When she returned home, I asked Judy how she thought my pruning job looked and she answered, “Well, it doesn’t look any worse than it did before.”

Container Tulips Coming on Strong

Container tulips
Container tulips

There are now 65 tulips (out of 120 planted) coming up in 10 of the 12 containers – only two have yet to show any signs of life. Hope to see the remainder of the tulips before long. Plus all five of the ‘City of Haarlem’ Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) have shown themselves.

Crocuses are Blooming

Crocuses blooming in the Sidewalk Border.
Crocuses blooming in the Sidewalk Border.

Though it is annoying that they won’t all bloom at the same time. Here are some Crocus tommasinianus.

More on tulips and crocuses in future blogs!

49 Comments on “Goodbye to Yew, and Other Developments”

  1. I think you did a fine job with your pruning!!! Do you get some privacy from this yew?? If so I think it is worth saving as green is always better than seeing other houses. And I need to get one of those folding saws…you would not believe how long it took me to take down my dead diablo nine bark with a flimsy old hand saw thing…..This one looks like a dream! Happy tulips to you!! Nicole

  2. We have some yew in our garden too, and experience has shown it grows back a lot quicker than the books say! I am always chopping bits off, sometimes with successful results, but not always! So I think you’ve done a good job.

  3. It appears that you used great restraint in your trim job. I like yews. They are like old men in the garden to me. They are a strong green color in the garden and rarely are sick. A good backdrop to roses. It will be fun to see your parade of tulips when they appear.

  4. I don’t have many mature plants that are in need of a prune yet but always go too far when pruning smaller things. Personally I’m impressed, I’m not sure if I’d have been able to stop.
    It does look better and I’m sure Golden Raindrops will thank you for the effort Jason.

  5. Hello Jason, the folding saw certainly looks the business with all those teeth. I like Judy’s rather mid-way comment of it not looking worse than it did before and yay! Your container tulips are coming on, looking forward to seeing those brightly blooming on the steps to your house.

  6. You certainly can see the difference your pruning has made, it’s so much lighter! Hopefully your crab apple will appreciate your efforts.
    Good to see your tulips coming through and those crocus are gorgeous, such a lovely blue.xxx

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