Yucca rostrata in Turf

photo credit: Ocean Blue
Here's a little advice: if you see a garden you like, take a picture of it today because it might be gone tomorrow. This was the case with a terrific xeriscape installed along lower Fairview Avenue in Boise five or six years ago.

Framed by two specimen sized Yucca rostrata, the unknown landscaper nailed it with a beautiful composition that wasn't quite riotous cottage garden style nor an uptight, rectilinear, modernist's garden- but rather a pitch perfect hybrid of the two. Hesperalo parvifolia, Agastache, Muhlenbergia and a half dozen other plant varieties I can't remember were combined with three triangulated, lichen covered boulders. Before I was able to take a photo (those were, after all, the days before decent cell phone cameras) all but the Yucca rostrata had been ripped out.

In it's place, someone decided to plant turf, and because the new business was an artsy, graphic design firm, a token Cor-ten weathered planter was installed with a crisp line of Equisetum.

I blame the turf indirectly on the Japanese architect, Tadao Ando and his preoccupation with horizontal planes. Many (most?) of his buildings sit at right angles to a plane of water or turf grass.

Photo courtesy of the Clark Institute
Photo credit:  Tomas Riehle 2004

Clean, calming, serene? Sure. Sustainable? Maybe in Kentucky. Never the less, this informs the aesthetic sensibilities of a great number of people I know personally in the creative fields. These are decent people who recycle, bike to work and support their local farmer (and landscaper) but can't let go of their favorite monoculture.

But back to the landscape and the Yucca rostrata...

Here's how the makeover looked a year or so after the turf/Cor-ten was installed in place of the xeriscape.

Photo credit: Google street view September 2011

I was pretty convinced that the Yucca rostrata would be dead by year's end. After all, the irrigation needs of turf grass and yuccas don't typically parallel. I'm pleased to report I was dead wrong.

Both have grown at least two feet in the last two and a half years.


No sign of my other prediction: string trimmer damage to the trunk.

While I wish the original xeriscape had been left in place, I'm pleased the specimen size Yucca rostrata are doing so well. I'll be employing Yucca rostrata in several installations in 2014.