Yew ‘Hicksii’ or taxus x media ‘Hicksii’ is an evergreen, coniferous tree of small and rounded habit and therefore very suitable for dwarf hedges, border hedges or hedges for smaller gardens. Yew ‘Hicksii’ is densely branched and densely leaved, even more so than the common yew (also knowns as English yew). It is also slightly slower growing than common yew, which is quite typical of plants with a more compact growth habit. The foliage is glossy green in colour and needle-like, similar to other species of conifer. Taxus media ‘Hicksii’ has a rather narrow upright habit and is suitable for screening hedges, growing up to at least 2m tall. In most cases, however, taxus media ‘Hicksii’ is used for low hedges, as it will take quite a while to create a tall screening hedge with this cultivar.
Taxus media ‘Hicksii’ is a selected female cultivar and will produce scarlet berries if pollinated by a male yew. To ensure berrying, plant one male cultivar (‘Hillii’) to about ten ‘Hicksii’. The red fruits, which are preceded by inconspicuous flowers in spring, appear in late summer and add plenty of interest to your garden. Also, they are eaten by various species of small birds. Yew ‘Hicksii’ responds very well to clipping and can be cut back rigorously if required, even though this is rarely the case, as this slow growing species tends to remain fairly small. Yew ‘Hicksii’ is tolerant of most positions and will grow in full sun or deep shade. It has a high tolerance of drought, but favours a well-watered soil that drains well.
A Yew Hedge with Striking Berries
While most hedging conifers are used to grow a dense, formal screening hedge, people usually do not choose to grow yew ‘Hicksii’ for that purpose due to its relatively slow growth habit of no more than 20 centimetres per year. Although it can certainly be used as a privacy hedge if you have the patience, although it does have a tendency to fan out to the sides if it becomes taller than about 2 metres. We would certainly not recommend trimming your ‘Hicksii’ hedge into a more formal shape, as this will mean trimming back the berries. When kept slightly informal, this cultivar will add more colour to your garden than any other conifer hedge would. While the fruits themselves are technically not poisonous, the seeds and the leaves are, which renders these striking fruits inedible for humans, but not for birds.
Undemanding Yew ‘Hicksii’ Hedges
Like any other yew cultivar, yew ‘Hicksii’ is capable of reaching a very old age. When taken care of properly, it is able to last several lifetimes. Fortunately, yew ‘Hicksii’ is not a very demanding conifer. It does share a dislike of wet sites with many other conifers used for hedging and it is also does not like prolonged drought. But apart from that, taxus media ‘Hicksii’ will grow happily in just about any garden. It is also exceptionally hardy, so it will even be able to cope with the relatively harsh winters in the north of Britain.