It’s hard to imagine that this gigantic bastion of ancient yew trees began three centuries ago as a formal terrace row, each tree cut into a neat, small cone or obelisk. Back then in the 1680s, when these trees were first planted, the taste in grand garden design was for the linear and geometric, following the French notion of strict plant control.
A hundred years later it was all change. In keeping with the new romantic landscape style of English gardening, the yews were allowed to grow as they pleased. The aim was to create vistas of idealized nature.
But this more liberal attitude did not last either. Around the time of the yews’ two-hundredth birthdays, Victorian garden men armed with sickles and step ladders intervened, and began creating this arboreal rampart of free-form topiary. Both fascinating and overbearing, I feel. The gardeners apparently hung onto to their ladders with…
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