Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Welcome to the Barbershop: Revisited

Time flies like an arrow
Fruit flies like a banana

Time flies quick indeed and before you know it lots of things are coming into full circle again, including my blog post Welcome to the Barbershop which I wrote almost a year ago now. I really enjoyed composing that post, which was a recollection of a recent garden tidy up activity at a time that I wasn't feeling too well either. Not to mention having an over active imagination at the same time!

Now something curious about that entry is that it turned out to be our most viewed blog post of all time, 'head and shoulders' above everything else (pun intended). To be honest I don't know why that entry in particular has become so well viewed within our blog. Perhaps a lot more people out there are into Yuccas than I thought there would be? Or maybe there's something about my creative comparison of cutting human hair with trimming plant leaves? Or perhaps it's something to do with the photo of the Cat Lady from the 'The Simpsons' appearing on that post that seems to be the cosmic draw for people to keep reading that post over and over again?

I'd rather not find out and prefer to be continually mystified if I may say. But one fond thing I have for that entry is that I wrote it during a mild February week, mild enough that I was able to do some tidy up, and just after a very bad cold spell earlier that same winter too; that you just simply appreciate the mildness of that particular time and grateful that I was able to do some outdoor gardening then. 

Dreaming of sunnier times...
Mother Nature may have been very naughty earlier that winter but at least she was apologetic and generous enough to let us off for the rest of that winter, which turned out to be a long and steady coast towards spring. The damage was done of course, but at least it gave us plenty of opportunity to tidy up the mess.

But saying that, back to the present it looks like Mother Nature is having a mini tantrum again as we are currently in the middle of another cold spell although predicted to be not as harsh as 'that' cold spell. I'm crossing my fingers that is definitely the case.

But come to think of it, is it really a 'mini tantrum', or is it just the natural course of this so called winter? It is February after all, traditionally the coldest month of a winter season in the northern hemisphere. More likely, it is the latter and we can all just live in hope that the cold spell doesn't last too long nor temperatures do not go down very low either.

And now, back to the 'Boys'! So how are they doing now, almost a year after having a haircut? I'm glad to report that all but one are doing absolutely fine, planted out last spring and have been establishing themselves in their new (and permanent) homes. Even with the odd frosts and sub zero temperatures we've had earlier this winter (albeit still an exceptionally mild one so far) no problems at all, shrugging the cold and still looking good from the moment they showed new growth in the summer (and they better bloody remain that way, for that's what they are displayed for!). Ok, maybe one is not looking very pretty but it's got a reason and I'll explain why much later.

Now, as I've said we're in the middle of a cold snap and it's still dark when I get up and go to work in the morning, dark when I get home. I could take their latest photos in the dark but I tend to avoid flash photography as it rarely comes out flattering (using my snappy snap auto camera anyway). So I'll have to use photos taken during the summer instead (trust me, they still look the same, albeit with the odd frost on them on some nights).

So once again, Welcome to the Barbershop!

Yucca rostrata

This one has pretty much remained the same since it had its haircut although did put out a bit of new growth in the summer. It rooted very well in its original large terracotta pot so when we planted it out we had to dig a massive hole too, almost as large as the plant itself. Yucca roots are notoriously brittle so despite us being as careful as we possibly can ('Heavy' and 'Careful' is not always an easy combination), I suspect it still sustained some root damage during the process (for all of them really). So probably it spent most of its energy re-rooting rather than putting out new top growth. But it's there now, all it needs to do is to fully settle down and thrive as I've no intention of moving it again (unless it carks of course!). Now I need a bit more of that 'hair' this year young man!

Yucca thompsoniana

Now this Yucca, bless, is there because it managed to appeal to the nurturing side of me being a gardener. If I was an aesthetic purist it would have been out of the pot and into the heap the very moment we started planting the bed it is in now. Looking back at the old post, it had flowered a few years ago and as a consequence it looked tired and scruffy afterwards. Another consequence of this Yucca flowering is that the 'head' tends to split hence you have two growing points after. And then it flowers again and it splits, and then.. etc. etc. So that's what's happened now, it pushed out new growth in the summer and all of the older leaves have shrivelled away, so off they went with a pair of secateurs. And you can just about make it in the photo that there's a second growing point about to come out. Now I'm hoping it carries on pushing new growth in this years growing season, so it'll look pretty again (if not at least decent). Well if not...

I'll cross that bridge then if I have to. In such a prime spot I could do with something that looks pretty all the time and if it carries on testing my aesthetic sense then I may just have to replace it with another one (I've got a queue of 'boys' in the greenhouse you know!).

Dasylirion quadrangulatum (small)

The ungrateful one! Fancy dying in the summer after all that effort! Kidding aside, somehow rot managed to get into the crown and it just spread till it was too late. Still nevermind, although I would have preferred it carried on living of course.

Oh, and another one is the Yucca filifera above which I didn't feature on the original post. Avoid this one if you want cold hardy(ier), tough Yuccas for the garden, it's not that hardy at all. It did sail through our previous winters bar the last one which was too much for it. But if you're a collector or you've got a mild spot for one then go for it. A living specimen is very attractive (and the one above isn't).

Dasylirion quadrangulatum (big)

On a more positive note, our bigger Dasylirion quadrangulatum is an absolute gem. Love, love, love! And I wouldn't mind getting a bigger one in the near future (pocket willing).

Yucca linearifolia

October 2011
April 2011
Ah my boy, my favourite of the lot. So tall, big, and undemanding it didn't even need a haircut then. I'm not so sure about it not needing a haircut again this year but is certainly doing well by sending lots of new growth in the summer and as a bonus has sent out a new shoot from ground near its base. Fantastic! This Yucca is one of the easiest to re-root and proving to be one the hardier ones that you can plant out with full confidence in your garden.

The 'skirt' of dead leaves are starting to get more bulky now as it continues to push out new growth, so it may need a haircut just to decongest it a bit. Although there's no one in the wild to give these boys a haircut anyway so I might not bother, with the dry and dead leaves shrinking even more as they are pushed down with more recent growth, and/or eventually falling with healthy plants exhibiting very attractive, spherical crowns.

Now this boy has got a new neighbour, same plant only much smaller and doing just as well. 

April 2011
My desire now is for all of them to thrive and continue doing well and eventually have beautiful, spherical crowns that are so attractive to look at. Although I've owned some of them for quite some time already, they never really did well in pots so I'm hoping that with a freer root run (in essentially a massive pot) they will start reaching their full potential.

Sometimes when I look back I wish that I was more into Yuccas back then, and that I've planted several in the garden before. But I was more into 'lush and leafy' plants then, preferring the Jungle style over anything else, and blue (and not so blue) leafed Yuccas didn't fit the bill in such a planting scheme (plus the rich and moist soil is not that suitable to their growing requirements).

Love this shot, taken within the pond before other bed was finished
I'm still into 'lush and leafy' plants, very much so, but at least I've got a 'Blue' Bed now, something that I thought I'd never have until a couple of years ago. And it's on the Blue Bed where the boys are.

Now if you read this post carefully you would have spotted that I said there's a queue of boys waiting in the greenhouse. Yup, there is and I might write about giving them a haircut in the future too, in this barbershop of mine right in my head.

Or maybe I should up my game and open an upmarket Hair Salon instead? I'll think about it.

Mark :-)


  1. Hi, thanks for your comment on my blog! The weather in Buenos Aires now is pretty torrential rain and thunder storms! The temperatures at 30C aren't too bad though!!

    I had a blue bed at my parents garden. Most of it is still there, but will have to stay until I pot things up or get my own garden! Yuccas are brilliant plants. I also had Yucca rigida - beautiful but not very hardy.

  2. You have me Yuccling to myself over here. My most read post is 'Hazel hates herbicides', and my recent post, 'I nearly got arrested' has flown up to fourth place. I think the title has something to do with it. Maybe you have a lot of people Googling for a barber, or seeking a singing group and then they find you. :-)

  3. I love love love your yuccas and relatives. That Dasylirion quadrangulatum is a stunner! Where on earth did you find one that large? I have one that's even smaller than your small one was, and it's taking its sweet time putting on size.

    Slow growth is about the only negative thing I can say about this group of plants. But then, don't parents always tell their kids that all good things come to those who wait? (What baloney, if you ask me.)

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  4. Funny my most popular post of all time involves Yuccas as well. Maybe they are secretly everyone's favorite plant?

    Sorry about your RIP's...but I can't wait to see the queue!

  5. Interesting pic of Dasylirion quadrangulatum. (Pity it died!) I think I may be confusing this with Agave geminiflora. Sadly out here they are often butchered with too much foliage removed which makes quick identification tricky!

  6. Another fabulous post. I own only one yucca, the Gloriosa. I have never been a big fan of them, but seeing your post could possible convert me if I had the space.

  7. That's another page view on your first Barbershop Post. I think a lot of it is in the title..
    We have a couple of yuccas in the border but keep losing them. I see most of yours are in pots. That seems to be the way to go...

  8. Love your Dasylirion quadrangulatum. usual envy! odd popular posts mine is the finding the inner jungle (understandable and picked up by Google) then other odd ones like the gay jacuzzi about my duck problem, how could that be popular ;)

    loving your big red crosses....

  9. Hi Rob, we could do with that 30C at the moment, it's freezing here! Still dreaming of summer...Good to know of your experience with Yucca rigida, that's still on my wish list but looks like it'll be one for a pot permanently. Be good to see you have your own garden :)

    I enjoyed writing this entry, glad you yuccled away with it Hazel :) I suspect it is the barber word in the title that made it so well viewed. The magic of google!

    Glad you liked them Gerhard, I knew you would with your recent Yucca posts :) That Dasylirion is such a lovely plant, and it's not really that big especially compared what some of the exoticists here own. I got it from one of the specialist nurseries here, imported from Mexico/Central America (?). And yes, it's very slow growing! Persevere with yours and hopefully you can find a bigger one soon :)

    Loree, I could easily have a garden filled with Yuccas (and Araliads) :) Could there be more people into Yuccas that we presumed?? I've gotten over my RIP's, although I do hope I don't have to add too much to that list in the future.

    Hi Ian, I'm not too bothered with the small Dasylirion, just glad that the bigger one is ok. It does look like an A. geminiflora from a distance, sans the filaments. Out there these xerophytes are taken for granted hence butchered. I'll cringe if I see that done here, yikes! :)

    Thanks Libby! Make space for at least a Yucca recurvifolia, it'll look great in your garden and hardy too! :)

    Hi Janet, keeping them in pots makes it easy to shift them under shelter especially if it gets too cold in your area. Y. gloriosa and Y. recurvifolia might be suitable in your garden :)

    Clive, you must rectify that Dasylirion envy by getting one this year :) Go on, you know you want to...And I enjoyed your gay jacuzzi post btw!

  10. I had to go back and read your Barbershop post from last year! You have an amazing collection of yuccas. I have never grown yuccas. I always thought it would be like growing sharp pointed swords in the garden, and with three little boys running around, I thought it might dangerous. But my children are grown now, and you have shown me there is more than one kind of yucca. I love the Dasylirion Quadrangulatum!

  11. Hi Mark, you write very well, that is a plus sign for a blogger. You can have a lot of sidelines there; writer, gardener, pond planner, plant barber! These are all very high paying jobs because maybe you are the only plant barber on the planet, a very specialist and skilled qualification! Kidding aside, you have a very healthy and wide garden, despite the deaths. And the plants are already big too. I bet they are already very expensive at those sizes. Good job Mark! I will give you a cycas if you want, haha!

  12. Very cool plants. I can see the fascination for them. Trying to catch up a little. Still behind with all the work here but wanted to drop by.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  13. Hi Mark, I love those shots of the new bed, looking very good indeed. And I am in love with that Dasylirion quadrangulatum, so beautiful. And if you ever need an alternative career, plant barber might just fit the bill!!

  14. Thanks Janet! Maybe as a side earner I can be a plant barber :)

  15. Great post - I love the red crayon cross and 'RIP'. Though it is a little spooky, rather like you did them in advance of the plants dying; a scary premonition. (And I love that you have a barber advert too)!

  16. Holy crap that D. quadrangulatum is mind blowingly amazing. Stinks about the smaller one though :( I wish I had the space for such beautiful plants!


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