I was photographing in Hancock, New Hampshire a few days ago and toward the end of the day decided to drive to the Harris Center to take a short walk. Located just a few miles from the center of Hancock, The Harris Center for Conservation Education is a non-profit dedicated to promoting understanding and respect for the natural environment. I have been there many times but on that day there was a beautiful winter sky and the new covering of snow on the ground made the clump of Yews (Taxus), shown in the photo above, stand out like they never did for me before. It's always amazing to me how something relatively mundane that you've walked by many times before can take on such a different look and appeal depending on the right light and conditions. So, I quickly grabbed my camera and took the series of shots that you'll see below.
Although renovated over the years to new, efficient green standards, much of the building that now houses the Harris Center was once the home of Dr. L. Vernon Briggs, a psychiatrist from Boston who was attracted to the clean air and rural nature of the New Hampshire hills. Built in 1928, the estate was surrounded by about 3000 acres of land that Dr. Briggs had purchased over the years and immediately around the house, some formal gardens were developed (you can read a brief history of the Harris Center here). Many of the remnants of these gardens are still evident, especially this semi-circular clump of Yews that were originally a hedge.
Photographer, Eleanor Briggs, who founded the Harris Center in 1970 and is the granddaughter of Dr. Briggs, tells me that the Yews were planted probably around 1935 and, when she knew them as a young child, "they were trimmed to have a curved round top about the height of the current browse line," which the deer are happy to keep trimmed into a fine stand of topiary.
Below are some additional shots I took of the Yews, as well as some other lovely garden structures that are still in place from the original gardens. You can click on the images to enlarge and scroll through. All of these images were captured on a Nikon D610 with a Nikkor 28-300mm lens.