The Common or English Yew (Taxus baccata) is one of the oldest plants used in our gardens and evokes a time when formal hedges were a must. The ability to clip the dark, dense evergreen foliage into precise shapes and its slow rate of growth makes it ideal for large-scale topiary.
In autumn, the female plants produce fleshy, bright red fruits, which attract birds and small mammals. Yew hedges make ideal nest sites, too. The denseness of the plants means that growing a tall, formal hedge is straightforward.
Maintenance-wise, yew is incredibly hardy and will tolerate a wide range of poor conditions - shade, chalky and acidic soils, even drought once well established.