Reshaping the iconic yews

Early morning on the West Drive at Montacute

January and February is the perfect time to reshape the 30 yews along Montacute House’s West Drive, restoring them to their original form.

The job, which could take up to four weeks, involves unwinding the wires that bind the branches together and cutting back hard. The result will look a bit scary at first, but has to be done to stop the Irish yews splitting and breaking.

Two years ago the garden team tackled the yews on Cedar Lawn, reducing the height and width significantly. Green shoots are now sprouting on the bare branches.

This year’s work will restore the view along the iconic West Drive, which was begun at the end of the 18th century and changed the entrance of the house from the east to the west side.

" ‘I began Forming a New Road to the West Front…thro Boys Court Orchard by Filling Up millponds Levelling Hedges etc’ "
- Edward Phelips, 1785

Chris Gaskin, Head Gardener, says: ‘These sentinel yews were planted in the 19th century, part of a tiered arrangement of three “avenues”. But over time the growth of the trees behind the yews has pushed them out of shape.’

The work is part of ongoing conservation in the historic gardens at Montacute House.

New green shoots
New green shoots
New green shoots