If you have been in the garden this week you will have heard the woodchipper working away in the demonstration garden. The Arboretum team have been working to remove a section of Yew (Taxus baccata) hedging so that it can be replaced with a conservation Yew hedge. Next week we will remove the stumps and then begin to replant.
Many members of staff at RBGE have assisted with collecting the different accessions of Taxus baccata for the hedge. In November 2011 I visited a special part of the North Devon coastline to collect from a population that has been pushed to the very edge of Exmoor by grazing pressure. The population survives here because of the steepness and inaccessibility of this part of the coast.
To help me find this population of trees I met with local man Kester Webb and Dr David Aplin. Kester has fantastic knowledge of this stretch of coast and has explored it extensively. The stretch of coast has the highest sea cliffs in southern England and the second largest tidal range in the world. This makes many parts of the coast difficult to access. Kester is a very experienced rock climber and has spent most of his life exploring, drawing and photographing the coast. He recently published a book on this stretch of coast called “The Hidden Edge of Exmoor”.
I look forward to planting the plants we have grown from the seed I collected but they are just seedlings at the moment so will not become part of this section of hedge.
The fantastic thing about this hedge is that every plant will have a story.
I have a history with Taxus hedges. My first proper job in horticulture was working for the Longleat Estate, I would spend weeks lost in the Yew hedge maze neatly trimming it with a hedge cutter. The horticulturalists at the garden have recently adopted a novel approach to cutting hedge which allows them to complete the job quickly by skilfully walking the maze in stilts to allow them to trim the top.
See a video of them cutting the hedge here: http://www.longleat.co.uk/news/tall_order_as_maze_takes_high_tech_approach_to_hedge_trimming