This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
All of the yew family are beautiful plants, and of great value in making up a place. When fully exposed to the sun, they sometimes burn and brown in winter; but wherever they are shaded by having a position on the north side of buildings, the northern slope of a hill, or the north side of a group of large evergreens, they retain their color perfectly. The common English yew - baccata - is the one most generally grown. It forms a bush of from six to twelve feet high, and when old enough to fruit, forms one of the most elegant of evergreen shrubs.
The erecta is more compact and upright, not as spreading, in its habit; while the horizontalis is spreading, almost creeping, in its growth. There are also several varieties with variegated foliage very curious and ornamental. The Irish yew - Hibernica - is of slow, compact, upright growth, forming a very small, round, pillar-like tree, but it will not endure any exposure to the winter suns. The American yew - Canadensis - is, perhaps, the most hardy of all, but it is not of as rich and dark a green. As a class, however, masses of them are very beautiful; and when azaleas are mingled with them the result is quite satisfactory, especially in spring, when the azaleas are in bloom. In England the yew is used more or less for hedges; but as a hedge plant, except in positions shaded from the mid-day sun, and for the purpose of variety, its use in this country is not advisable.