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Gardening at Powis Castle

A sunny day with a view of Powis Castle Garden in Wales showing gardener clipping the yew hedges with box hedges and hills in the distance
Gardener on a cherry-picker clipping the hedging at Powis Castle, Wales | © National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

The towering yew ‘tumps’ and miles of box hedges are a famous sight at Powis Castle. From extreme gardening to a history of hedge trimming, learn more about our work keeping this beautiful landscape in shape.

Extreme gardening at Powis Castle

There are almost 8,500 square metres of formal hedging in Powis Castle gardens. The 14 yew ‘tumps’ and top terrace hedge adds a further 7,000 square metres to this. But how do our gardeners keep these 14-metre-high bushes looking so spectacular?

‘Trimming the high topiary is a huge task. It takes one gardener about 10 weeks on a hydraulic cherry-picker to get it all done.’

– David Swanton, Head Gardener

Yew ‘tumps’

The clipped yews along the terraces remain in the mind long after a visit is over, not only because of their sheer size, but because they are such a major element of the garden.

Keeping the famous yew ‘tumps’ in tip-top condition is a challenge, but our gardeners make the task look easy. In late summer and early autumn they take to the air in a cherry-picker and spend several weeks trimming the garden’s high topiary. This guarantees the hedges look spectacular for the next 12 months. 

View of flower borders and box hedges on the orangery terrace at Powis Castle garden on a sunny day in July
Summer colour at Powis Castle | © National Trust Images / Mark Bolton

Trimming the hedges

It’s a huge task to get all the trimming done at Powis Castle Garden. Two gardeners spend six weeks trimming the box hedge and two more spend 12 weeks working on the yew. One gardener spends about 10 weeks in the air on the hydraulic cherry-picker, getting all the high trimming done.

Old-fashioned gardening

It might sound like a mammoth task, but our garden team are quite lucky. Until relatively recently, it took 10 men a full four months to clip all the box and yew hedges. They used hand shears and balanced on very long ladders. These were tied together where necessary, to reach the top of the taller yews. Powered shears make all the difference and reduce the task considerably.

A family walking along a path bordered by hedges, towards a tunnel in tall hedges, at Powis Castle, Wales
Visitors in the garden in spring at Powis Castle, Wales | © National Trust Images/John Millar
Facade of Powis Castle showing the sequence of garden terraces below featuring massive clipped yews at Powis Castle and Garden, Wales


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