Thursday, January 27, 2011

Worth the Inconvenience

So how much inconvenience are you willing to put up with just to be able to bring home a plant?

Quite alot here, not to the point of utter pain and suffering, but the willingness to go through a state of discomfort for a few hours just to be able to bring back home a plant I'm smitten with!

And it has happened several times before, through the years of visiting nurseries, going on plant shopping trips, buying plants on our holidays here and abroad, or just simply spotting a plant you just have to get at times when you least expect or prepared for it.

Just recently we went for a weekend break staying at a friend's house in Devon, which is about 200 miles away from where we live. On a visit to their nearby retail and amusement park, I spotted a lovely looking plant growing happily outside in the garden section. From a distance it looked like a bromeliad, which would have been unusual as it's planted out in the open and that area has gone down to possibly lower than -10C, and very few bromeliads could survive such low temperatures (Fascicularia bicolor ssp. canaliculata can, and the odd others). On closer inspection it looked more like a small yucca, with spiny tips but what attracted me are the colour, symmetry and arrangement of leaves. And the fact it remained unflawed despite all the frosts and snow it's been through.

My thoughts were confirmed when a couple was available for sale near the counters, labelled as Yucca aloifolia 'Purpurea'. The shape and form of the plant is unlike any other yucca I've encountered before and suffice to say I'm smitten. So pleased they had some for sale andjust had to bring back one with us.

Not wanting to risk ruining the symmetry or bruising the leaves by placing it at the boot, I opted to place it in between my legs throughout our journey back home. Now that's a three and a half hour car journey that I had this yucca wedged between my legs! It made the journey uncomfortable for me but it was so well worth it, chuffed that it made home in a pristine condition.

Now that's not the first time I've been through a long car journey with a plant on my lap or in between my legs. Almost always, whenever we get back from Cornwall and our car full to the brim with plants have I found myself needing to do this. There was even a time we had to place all our luggage on the roof rack so that all the plants can be accomodated at the back and boot of the car (and at the front!).

Other uncomfortable situations I've subjected myself into before are having to sit at the back with a much smaller space to make way for long and big specimens, having leafy plants brushing my face for hours in the car, and hand carrying plants of varying sizes from Central London all the way home using both the London Undeground and National Rail in the process, with the most recent being a Yucca rostrata in a heavy terracotta pot during rush hour.

I sometimes doubt my sanity whilst in the midst of it all but as soon as I get home all doubts dissappear and it feels great getting them home.

So many wonderful plants out there that would make a lovely addition to your garden or collection, and getting some of them home can be tricky or uncomfortable. But if you really want it and it'll make you happy then it is definitely worth the inconvenience :)

Update 30/01/11: Upon further research on the plant Yucca aloifolia 'Purpurea', it seems that it could be the same as Yucca desmetiana, and that the former is a mislabelling. I'll look more into it and post an update :)


  1. Presents from mum

    -Half an hour by car, 2½ hours by train, 1 hour by bus and then another ½ hour by bus. 70 pounds of perennial bare-root and root-clump plants, a sprained ankle and a black toenail from dropping a suitcase of root clumps on my foot.

    Does this count as "inconvenience"? It did, though, provide perennials for two complete beds and a large contribution to a third and fourth.

  2. Dear Mark and Gaz, I find it all very exciting and totally understandable that you should wish to endure untold agonies in order to transport a covetable plant home to your green oasis in London. However, what I do not understand is why you should wish to travel 200 miles to go to an amusement park in Devon...200yards would be too many for me!!!

    I look forward to seeing your new acquisition in place in the garden in due course.

  3. May I refer you to the Great Clown Car Incident of May 2008...

    Clown Car

  4. What a great post! I had to laugh because what you said describes our family to a T, or more precisely me.

    That is a stunning Yucca aloifolia you got there. I love yuccas, not only for their beauty, but also for their easy care and cold-hardiness.

    I bought a Yucca recurvifolia 'Margaritaville' (aka 'Hinvargas') last fall that has done really well for us. Its growth habit seems very similar to your aloifolia.


    :: Bamboo and More ::

  5. Soren, that does count as an inconvenience but well worth it!

    Edith, that made me laugh out loud here! Long story why we went to that particular amusement park but it was good fun. Oh, and the beach was nice too, but no swimming as too cold! :)

    Thanks for that Julia!! Blast from the past!

    Thanks Gerhard, and what a stunning Yucca, I want one! I wonder how similar it is to Yucca recurvifolia 'Banana Split' that is doing the rounds here? The Y.a. Purpurea apparently remains compact which is good as I prefer it remaining that way.

  6. I loved this post and could relate to it oh-so-well...Even as a little kid I often just had to have a certain plant and luckily my wonderful parents always indulged my botanical desires - even when it meant driving all the way from southern Portugal to Germany in a car filled to the brim with young strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), a small orange tree, a specimen of Hedychium coronarium which was about as big as me at the time, and all kinds of other plants.

  7. 'Banana Split' (aka 'Monca') and 'Margaritaville' (aka 'Hinvargas') are similar but not identical. Each is a patented cultivar (of course!). 'Banana Split' appears to have a wide bright yellow band in the middle. 'Margaritaville' has a silver band in the middle, with smaller yellow and dark green bands on the side. This is a better photo that looks just like our plant: click here.

  8. If you come home from a great garden centre like that WITHOUT a plant or two between your feet or poking you in the ear you haven't tried hard enough.
    Hope they all thrive for you.

  9. Two huge pots of bamboo laying down in a hatch back...filling the car from windscreen to hatch. Passenger had to hold it down so I could see to rear vision at all. It was only a half hour journey...but still. Still have some of the bamboo which stayed at my sister's for a while between houses and is now screening a water tank. We moved it in a trailer the other times.

  10. It is so very hard to say "no more," when visiting a greenhouse or nursury. That yucca would be perfect in my yard to grow alongside its more common relatives. I'll start looking around here.

  11. Excellent post, so true of most gardeners. I have always been amazed just how much you fit in your car!!!

  12. I'm such an American! At first I thought you were trying to drive with that plant between your legs. Now that would have been a challenge! Love that yucca.

  13. Hilarious! But you clearly had to do it, what a gorgeous yucca, and hardy too!

  14. Tis a good thing you did not need to do an emergency stop! I am sure that your bravery will be well rewarded..lovely plant....

  15. Have you checked out the Architectural Plants nursery near Horsham, Sussex? Loads of fabulous plants and not so far for you to travel!

  16. College Gardener, Missy, and Hazel, well done and glad you're on the same boat :)

    Gerhard, thanks for info, I'm on the lookout for Margaritaville now!

    Libby, that car is a Tardis :)

    Nellie and Janet, it is a lovely Yucca that's why I'm smitten with it!

    Wicked Gardener, that made me laugh thinking about beng the driver and having a plant in between your legs!

    Mike, so far so good, I think we've only ever made one short stop at a layby to re-arrange a few bits.

    Martin, we've never been for some reason, definitely on the list of visit to places soon! We've heard so much about the nursery before and their exotic plants :)

  17. I just got a catalogue from Architectural plants as we have never been either, great catalogue we will be visiting soon :-)


  18. Mark, that is so funny, and how often over the years have I done this, perhaps not 200 miles though. You need to try this with a fish tank some time, very painful. That is a great looking Yucca though. We have one which is in a container and does very well, I over winter it in the unheated greenhouse just to be on the safe side. It has variegated leaves, not sure of the name. Since I started blogging it has become clear to me how many gardeners dislike variegation, must be me, I find that many of them can make a good contrast to other plants.

  19. Hi Alistair, post a photo of your variegated Yucca if you can, might be able to ID it! Probably best left in the container just to be in the safe side as its a wee bit colder up there :)

    I've found that too with variegates, it is an acquired taste and most gardeners are 'naturalist' (there aren't many variegates occuring naturally in the wild), but like you I find they make lovely contrast in the garden.

  20. I tend to go overboard with variegated plants--to the point where the standard green variety seems like an exotic novelty :-).

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  21. Hilarious post! I have spent many the day transporting plants in uncomfortable circumstances. Most notably a 12" potted Monstera on a Victoria public bus, a 8 foot cactus jammed into my vw golf (poking out the sunroof) and a giant jasmine half way down vancouver island. Love the photos, great post!

  22. Hi Mark and gaz ,
    Got my Yucca aloifolia , from Costco in Milton Keynes about 2 months ago for £13 , apparently able to take -10 , but it`s not really happy with all the rain we had , seen for sale again at Season in Bedford and surprise surprise even at the Bedford plant market on Friday and amulree got a stock of them as well.
    Transporting plants in uncomfortable circumstances? what about an full luggage with cactus from Italy to England .


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