Tag Archives: Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea’

Saturday clippings 7/26/14


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Melocactus matanzanus

The Orange County Cactus & Succulent Society sale is this weekend, where the buzz and gossip amongst the sales tables might very likely entice you into bringing home your first melocactus.
It’s possible that the recent visit to the Huntington’s Desert Conservatory is behind this atypical impulse buy.
(I also snagged a small Agave ‘Tradewinds,’ with lovely blue-green stripes and a couple bromeliads, much more typical of my usual succulent show purchases.)
I’m going to designate the melocactus my favorite plant in the garden this week, because if you go to Loree’s blog, the post prior to favorite plants references a great deal on the Personal Recollections of William Hertrich, the man who made the desert garden for Huntington. And here I just bought socks on Amazon for my youngest son and forgot to add Hertrich’s recollections to my basket. Damn.

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Eulophia petersii at the sale

Plant shows are so helpful in filling in gaps in understanding the life cycle of these often very slow-growing plants. I’d never heard of eulophias before this week, a desert-adapted orchid, so would normally walk right by these pleated green leaves with the bulbous bases, which I’m sure I’ve done dozens of times before at succulent shows.

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But I had just seen eulophia in a staggering full-bloom display earlier in the week at Solana Succulents, on consignment sale for hundreds of dollars.
So what those underwhelming leaves were capable of producing was still very fresh in my mind. Pots about one-sixth the size of the above container were selling for $50 at the show.

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The eulophia fit neither my wallet nor the Mini Cooper, so the only purchase I made at Solana Succulents was this smooth-leaved Dyckia ‘Naked Lady.’

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I’m compulsive about planting something as soon as I bring it home. I tend to forget to water seed trays and cuttings, but if it’s in the garden I know I’ll keep an eye on it.
I planted the new dyckia as a ringer amongst a couple Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea.’
Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I’m thinking this placement kind of minimizes that rank plant show impulsivity I fall victim to, as in Nothing to see here, just a disciplined repetition of key plants..
I have an enormous clump of barbed dyckia to tackle one day, so this Dyckia nudum had instant appeal.

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Pachypodium namanquanum

This pachypodium at the show reminded me of the verbascum I once grew and can’t seen to find again.
(The verbascum was sold as V. undulatum. Furry, chartreuse leaves, it could have been Verbascum epixanthinum.)

Lastly, in case you’re in need of more bromeliads, and who isn’t, Rainforest Flora in Torrance is having a 20 percent sale this weekend and next weekend too.

so cold that plants are turning purple

The cold weather is coaxing some fine seasonal coloration out of plants, especially those whose names hint to a destiny with the color purple anyway.


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Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’

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deeply plummy mid ribs on the leaves of Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’

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Yucca aloifolia ‘Purpurea’

I hope your gardens are faring as well as possible in this seriously cold December, and that you’ve protected and saved from the freeze that’s blasted North America’s west coast what you could and/or become resigned to bouts of intense plant shopping in spring. In the meantime, there will always be catalogues to browse in winter, like England’s Crug Farm Plants. Though they’re mostly untried (and unavailable) in Southern California, I’m thinking hardy scheffleras like S. alpina and macrophylla might be just the thing for containers kept on the moist side next summer.

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.