Tag Archives: Yucca aloifolia ‘Blue Boy’

Bloom Day May 2016

Welcome to the jungle. (Okay, so it’s a dry jungle.)

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This will be an abridged Bloom Day post, looking at the telescoped view through my office doorway and describing the big stuff that stands out in the frame.
Rudbeckia maxima on the left is nearly as tall as the pergola but not as tall as the tetrapanax behind it in this view. The kangaroo paws are starting to gain height.
Orange poppies on the far right are Glaucium grandiflorum,. Just one plant is at least a yard across this year.
It wouldn’t be summer without daisies, and this year there’s orange arctotis (right foreground near the sea kale, Crambe maritima).
And buttery yellow Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ with ferny, silvery green leaves, not pictured but at the feet of the glaucium.
The little white dots just to the right behind the dark aeoniums come from one of my favorite summer daisies, Argyranthemum foeniculaceum, a Canary Islander.
I never find it local, so this plant comes from a cutting I nabbed at a San Francisco park. Small, simple daisies with grey-green, finely cut leaves.
Purple and blues from Salvia uliginosa and Salvia leucantha. More Verbena bonariensis seedlings are coming into bloom.
In the foreground to the left of Yucca ‘Blue Boy’ I’m just stupidly excited to have the grass Stipa barbata coming into bloom.
Another grass I haven’t seen in bloom yet, Stipu ichru, way in the back under the acacia, has started flowering. I’ll be sure to grab photos for June.


Bloom Day July 2015

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The planting under the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ is all fairly new, except for the Plectranthus neochilus. Stinky or not, it’s a great addition to a dry garden.
Gomphrena ‘Balboa’ is the clover-like flowers with silver leaves, which blends in seamlessly with all the ballota here.
Tall grass in bloom is Stipa ichu, the Peruvian Feather Grass, said to be noninvasive, unlike the fearsome Mexican Feather Grass.
California chain Armstrong Nurseries as well as Home Depot have both vowed to no longer sell the MFG, Stipa tenuissima.

Continue reading Bloom Day July 2015

Yucca ‘Blue Boy’

I’ve brought a couple home under the name Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea,’ but I’ve recently been seeing it tagged as Yucca desmetiana ‘Blue Boy,’ as it was here at Cornerstone Sonoma, in the Transcendence garden designed by Delmar McComb and Peter Hanson. This yucca’s soft, recurved leaves are very unlike the typically stiff leaves of Yucca aloifolia, so we seem to be shuttling between various names until the nomenclature is definitively settled. Mine haven’t colored up like these yet, which is a big part of the allure of this mysterious yucca.


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Background shrubs are phlomis, rosemary and leucadendron.

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Chasing Plants

Post-Internet I’ve noticed plant desire has turned into a thinner and weaker strain now that it’s so easily satisfied. The really big desire, the kind that used to build up unrequited for years and years, is as analog as a manual typewriter. So now when a plant proves to be unobtainable, it’s kind of thrilling to yearn like years past. Oh, to pine again! A novelty emotion, so to speak.

I first saw the particular desirable plant in question on Loree’s blog, Danger Garden, Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea,’ and made a mental note to make this yucca mine the next time I ran into it, which seemed inevitable. So goes plant desire in the age of the Internet. Ebay, plant swap, mail order, seeds and bulbs from all over the world — relax, somehow you and the coveted plant will be united. And I’m not complaining, mind you, just noting the difference while it’s still within memory.

Photo found here.


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Yet this yucca was simply nowhere to be found. (I now know it also goes by the name Yucca aloifolia ‘Blue Boy,’ and Cistus Nursery in Portland, Oregon, carries it. See Plant Lust here.) The first time I saw it “in the leaf” was in a display garden last spring at Annie’s Annuals. I grabbed a salesperson, led her to the yucca, and tried to keep my voice from trembling when inquiring as to where in their nursery an offset of this plant would be waiting for me to take home. They didn’t carry it. But she kindly directed me to The Dry Garden in Oakland, California, the source of their specimen, helping out with map and directions. Victory was at hand, a mere 30-minute drive away!

Except The Dry Garden wasn’t currently carrying any stock of this particular yucca either. Rather disconsolately, I wandered around the nursery but perked up almost immediately, as promiscuous plant collectors are wont to do when surrounded by an extraordinary selection of plants. It was this day, in wild pursuit of that elusive yucca, that I found a plant I’d given up on ever seeing, let alone acquiring. Mathiasella bupleuroides. A dream plant, like angelica crossed with a euphorbia. The owner, Richard Ward, told me that as far as he knew, his was the only nursery in the country currently with stock of this plant since it was so touchy to propagate.

Photo from The Dry Garden.


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At home the mathiasella was planted in shade under the smoke tree, but the soil proved too thin and dry, and it languished all summer. Near death, it was emergency transplanted into a shady location with deeper soil, but it seemed the wrenching relocation mid-summer might be too much. Mercifully, just a few days ago I noted new leaf growth, so a photo may be forthcoming soon, if the recent onset of high temps doesn’t do it in. (Another personal link to this plant is the amount of time I used to spend in the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA, except I learn from the San Marcos Growers site that although named in her honor, the plant’s discovery is not credited to her.)

The trail of the yucca once again grew cold until this August, when I visited Digging Dog Nursery in Mendocino, California. In preparation for the trip, I checked their catalogue before the visit to become familiarized with their current offerings. Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea’ was not listed in their catalogue, yet there it sat before me, in a flat of 4-inch pots at the nursery. I was told that they were propagating the entire flat for the upcoming San Francisco Flower & Garden show in 2012 and that it was not generally for sale to the public, but I could take one home anyway. A little more sun will hopefully bring out the purpurea in him.


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Digging Dog has also been the first U.S. nursery to offer Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum,’ a thistle that’s been fluttering hearts at successive Chelsea Garden Shows of the last few years. However, Digging Dog is currently sold out. And apparently this thistle can’t be grown from seed.

Image found here.


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And so it goes. But a little yearning never hurt anyone.