Well, the day has dawned bright and beautiful here, and I’m shortly to decamp my office for the garden, but before I go, I wanted share with you an interesting discovery I made recently: yews prefer alkaline soil. This may not sound groundbreaking, but it’s the answer to a question that’s been puzzling me for a while. I have a low hedge of Taxus repandans, the spreading yew, along the front drive, and for several years they have been persistantly yellowing off – looking, in fact quite dreadful. I tried everything I could think of: adding iron to combat possible chlorosis; adding fertilizer; extra water; less water; acidifying the soil with sulfur. (All evergreens like acid soil, right?) Wrong. Turns out that’s another one of those common garden myths. In truth, not all evergreens like acid soil, the yew being one of them. It makes perfect sense when you think about it: European yews are native to the calciferous soil of Western Europe – think of all those ancient yews growing in chalky English churchyards – and really can’t tolerate acidic soils very well. So all my previous ministrations were actually hurting, not helping the yews. I made an about face, added some gardening lime, and the yews have begun to green right up.
Let’s just file this one away under the “Whoops” category.
By the way, for a bit more about the fascinating history of the yew, check out this link: http://www.michaelweishan.com/public_html/PRINT%20ARCHIVES/yew.htm