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Not many people can do that in the UK as the vast majority of land covenants state that you must not grow vegetables or fruit in front gardens. Growing food in the front garden was seen as incredibly vulgar from the Victorian era until quite recently.
1. Pieris japonica
3. Possibly an Acer but maybe something else.
I would feed the roots of the hedge with lots of good general feed and it will repair itself by the end of September. 2metres is not a limit to hedge height. All 2 metres means is the height over which local authorities will take into account in any tall hedge disputes and nothing more.
Do you have a picture of the leaves?
As the other Yews look in the prime of health I think the others need a good general feed and consistent water. I think that the other plants are competing for these nutrients and the end result is the weaker Yew's are looking bronzed and thin.
I have a few, my favourite is the huge Kniphofia northiae. Seems pretty oblivious to the weather.
"Anyone heard of water granules?"
Not suitable over winter.
They are reasonably hardy. I never lift them and they grow all the time. Bit like Tulips, if they like where they are they come back every year, if not they are cheap annuals.
No raised beds are not pots. Pots also tend to freeze their roots which would not happen in the ground.
Sumac as others have said. Do fine unless you dig around them or move them: then they send up masses of new growth.