While yews may be considered by some as an almost somber evergreen, I have always viewed them in a grander light. So often they are the evergreen frame, or bones, of the garden providing a sense of structure even in the middle of winter. The spirally arranged needle-like leaves are a glossy dark green in stark contrast to the shrub’s dark red peeling bark.

I have found that, for my garden, a cross between English yew (Taxus baccata) and Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) performs best. This hybrid, Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’ or Hicks yew, has an upright growth habit with dense dark green foliage. These qualities make it ideal for growing as a hedge.