Reshaping the iconic yews

yews west drive

The garden at Montacute House is known for its yew trees. Conservation can sometimes mean radical treatment.

The 30 yews along Montacute House’s West Drive were pruned back hard in 2020, restoring them to their original form.

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 job involved unwinding the wires that bind the branches together and cutting back hard. The result looked a bit scary at first, but had to be done to stop the Irish yews splitting and breaking.

In 2019 the garden team tackled the yews on Cedar Lawn, reducing the height and width significantly. You'll see green shoots are now sprouting on the bare branches.

The work restores 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

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

New green shoots
New green shoots
New green shoots