Saturday, October 31, 2020

Plant Profile: Yucca rostrata

Latin name: Yucca rostrata ("YOU-kah ross-TRAH-tah")
Common name:
Beaked Yucca, Big Bend Yucca
Originally from:
Western Texas and northern Mexico in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila.
Blooms: Large clusters of white flowers bloom on yellow-orange colored stalks that rise above the foliage on mature plants in late spring.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain is enough - hates waterlogged roots.
Height x width: 15' x 10'
Zones: 5 to 11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have five down at PRG in a group

Yuccas are a staple at PG and PRG, and this one is particularly beautiful. A very slow-growing (and therefore expensive in large sizes) tree-like yucca with upright stems and beautiful gray-blue narrow foliage that can branch, but usually doesn't.Growing slowly to to 12-15 feet tall, it has 2 foot long, somewhat stiff, slightly waxy, pale bluish-green leaves with very thin yellow margins,which make up a gorgeous rosette on top of the stems.

Give it a warm sunny areas with good drainage and perhaps occasional summer water and it will do well down to 0°F. Gophers do like it though, so if they annoy your garden plant it in a big basket.

Found on rocky slopes and ridges in western Texas and northern Mexico in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, the name "rostrata" means "beaked" referring to either the shape of the flower buds or parts of the fruit. That has led to the common name of Beaked Yucca but it is also called Silver Yucca or Big Bend yucca for the region in Texas where it is commonly found. The indigenous people of this area also called it Soyate and Palmita. 

It is sometimes confused with Yucca rigida which has stiffer leaves that are more bowed in cross section compared to the flat leaves of Yucca rostrata. A quick way to tell if you are confused which plant you are looking at is to imagine falling headfirst into it. Yucca rostrata would release you with scratches. Yucca rostrata would keep you impaled on its stems.... forever...

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Agave plantings

On Sunday Matt and I popped out to plant some plants - more plants we have been nurturing for ages, and just cannot keep through another winter!

Matt planted three Agave desmettiana variegata, and moved another big one to join the ones down on the lower path at PG. I put in one Agave lophantha, an Agave filifera, and arranged two new Agave shawii with the rest of the group we have - all growing quickly and starting to look very cool; see pic.

We watered a few very dry plants, weeded, and tidied the vine on the arch, and walked down to admire how clean and weedless PRG is right now. Except for a couple spots we will tackle at the next volunteer day :)

Monday, October 12, 2020

Agave rearranging, mega weeding achieved

Matt and I popped out to Potrero Hill on Saturday morning to meet Kris of Rhode Island Street who wanted to donate some tools to the gardens. We were delighted to get lots of good tools and some tree watering bags which will be super useful. Thanks Kris!

We headed to the garden and watered a few plants probably for the last time this year. Then we rearranged some of the Agaves behind the wrong way sign. That area has been a “pup farm” where we let small Agaves grow on. Now it’s time to make sense of it all. 

We made a group of five “Green Giants", moved an Agave tequilana “Sunrise” and laid out six or seven Agave lophantha as well. We pulled out a few somewhat shriveled looking pups to grow on at home, and weeded a bit. 

And yesterday Tomas and co were back to do some weeding at PRG. They removed some big Agaves that had flowered and cleaned up the path - a whole day of work for two people that has made a huge difference.

Fennel plants were cut back, grasses tidied,  litter removed, tree branches and leaves cleaned up, and the whole place just looks 1000% better.

Thanks to Josh and Tomas for making it happen.

Monday, October 5, 2020

False pretenses

I lured Josh to the October workday by saying we were planting new plants. On the day as we loaded the truck I realized we didn't actually have plants ready to go in the ground this week but it was too late to tell Josh to stay home. Haha. That would never happen ;)

Despite this he was his always cheerful self, and along with Matt, Chris, Bill and Hilary we worked away in the warm sun and got a few fun tasks done.

Bill turned the compost - emptying one bin completely and almost another, and getting several trugs of compost out which was spread around where needed. It's a really solid workout doing that, and I so appreciate anyone who turns compost. Rock on Bill!

Hilary cut back Salvia leucanthas. When the rains come they will spring back into action looking superb, so it was great to get that done at just the right time. Will we get some rain soon? Forecast says it's a definite maybe...

All those salvias went into the compost heap, and we also filled 7 paper bags for 311 to pick up - all the non compostable sticks and other things that take forever to break down in our bins go in those bags, and get composted elsewhere.

Chris removed a santolina that was past it's sell by date, and also the Dasylirion wheeleri in the middle back bed which had sadly rotted out after flowering. He replaced that plant with a good sized Agave weberi "Arizona Star" that was at the bottom of the steps and really too big for that spot - great swap!

Then what to put in the spot at the bottom of the steps? Well, a cactus that was there had been struggling due to a bramble crushing it. Chris and Josh removed and replanted the cactus, and gave the bramble a haircut.

Matt deadheaded a lot of Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears) and watered the plants that needed it. And I cut back a Phlomis.  I must have done more than just that, but somehow I can't recall!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Let's see that yucca!

Matt and I headed to the gardens last weekend to water one or two thirsty plants. We decided it was time to plant three 3 gallon sized Yucca rostrata plants we have been holding onto, as they will probably do well without too much help until the rains start.

We decided to plant them with the other three Yucca rostrata we have at PRG - one large 4' tall Yucca rostrata "Blue Velvet" that we planted back in February 2013 when PRG was first built, and two Yucca rostrata "Blue Velvet" that are about 2' tall, planted in January 2019.

Surprisingly the ones we had planted in the past were doing well, despite the fact that a big tree mallow (Lavatera maritima) was completely shading them and dumping lots of leaves and spent flowers into their crowns. So it had to GO! Out came the saws and pruners and pretty quickly the shrub was cut back to a more manageable size.

We moved one of the medium sized yuccas to one side, and added the smaller new ones around that area to make a nice group. They're slow growing but one day this will look lovely.

We put in a 311 green waste pickup request and tidied up - hop the city can remove the branches ASAP.

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