English Yew (Taxus baccata) in 2019 at Swindon Winter Image Show

The English Yew can live for over a 1,000 years and it is thought that many living Yews pre-date Christ by many thousands of years. The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire is claimed to be up to 9,000 years old. Here is an example of the development of a Yew tree as a bonsai starting back in the late 90’s.

Yew first potted up as a bonsai in 2004

The yew in the photo above was originally found by my mother as a tiny seedling with only three or four leaves. It was grown on in a large flower pot until large enough to plant out in the garden. It was then clipped into a round topiary about 4 feet tall. After about 8 years the garden was redesigned and it was then dug out.

I wondered if it would be worth training it as a Bonsai so before it thrown away we cut all the branches off to see what the trunk looked like. It was found to have 3 trunks and I decided  to pot it up in a washing up bowel.

The Yew tree survived this process and in the above picture which was taken in 2004, there was very good surface roots so it did not take long to get it into a large pot.

Before changing the pot pre 2012

By pinching out the tips of the new growth early you get a second flush of shoots in late summer. I also found by removing leaves in areas were  new growth was wanted it triggered a good response. All through the growing season I had to keep rubbing out buds from the trunks and branches where I did not want them.  

Yew at the Swindon Winter Image Show in 2012

The tree is now grown in pure Akadama. It is fed most days during the growing season with chempack Number 8 at quarter strength as instructed on the packet.

Yew tree in 2015

The tree pictures  below shows the progress made over the last 14 years, what it does not show is the improvement to the branch structure. The tree stands 890mm above the pot and 610mm wide with a 115mm diameter trunk. It is planted in a Chinese pot.

Bonsai Yew development -17 years

For more information about Yew trees check out our previous post on Yew trees as bonsai.