Friday, October 14, 2011

Yew hedges and country houses

click photo to enlarge
A couple of weeks ago I was cutting my side of a conifer hedge that separates part of our garden from a neighbour's. It's about 10 feet high and 50 yards or so long. It took me and my wife a morning of hard work to accomplish the task. My relatively light travails came to mind the other day during my visit to Audley End House in Essex as we took a break from our journey down to London. When I got my first glimpse of the Jacobean country house I was impressed - by the size, symmetry and setting of the building - but moreso by the fine yew hedge that stretched diagonally forward from one end of the main facade.

The hedge must be about 15 feet tall, very wide and many yards long. It is cut in the "bumpy", abstract style that is favoured by many country house gardeners. One often sees topiarised yews and geometrically cut yew hedges in such settings, but frequently these cyclopean hedges feature too. Often they act as screens separating areas of garden or block views that offer little of interest or perhaps an eyesore. At Audley End it serves to mask the hotch-potch of service buildings - kitchen, dairy, laundry etc - from visitors as they approach the front of the house. The hedge, unusually, isn't wholly yew, a few other evergreen shrubs have been allowed to intermingle.

As yew hedges go it's one of the biggest I've come across. Not as big though as this example at Montacute House in Somerset that takes 4 gardeners three months to cut! For a couple more examples of this kind of hedge see this Spalding, Lincolnshire example and this one at Melbourne, Derbyshire.

click photo to enlarge

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 50mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On