Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Yews trees at house entrances

From Lucy Quinnell, Leatherhead, Surrey:
If you know about the planting of yew [Taxus baccata] trees around houses, I would be very interested; we have one at each of four gatepost entrances to our 1346 house. They are not as old as that, and I have always wondered what era it was that yews were used in this way at domestic properties, and for what?

[Cumbria] the yew trees were holy. We had two in the garden and they stood like sentries in the shrubbery. They almost spoke they were so “wise”. We watched the red berries appear and they were like no other berry, sort of like a red cup with a green seed inside. The smelt lovely too, Antiseptic..of course now we know the full healing power of yew [Hilary Norman, e-mail, January 2013].

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