|Yucca faxoniana (left) Yucca thompsoniana (right)|
|Same spot two months later|
I had grown a little cocky about growing this wonderful ice plant I'd gotten from David Salman. Of course, looking at the map below at where it comes from, I should have been a tad more circumspect: most of the hardy ice plants we grow come from the high Drakensberg--far to the east and south of where this grows in nature. And this was one of many South Africans that succumbed to the nasty cold snap last April..fortunately, nurserymen had backup stock in greenhouses...so I have it in the garden again. Will it survive our current arctic blast? Stay tuned.....
Looking at the range of Horse Crippler, you would expect it to be much tougher than the giant Faxon's Yucca I started up with: after all--it grows at much higher altitudes, over a hundred miles to the north. Moreover, it is a low plant that would theoretically be somewhat protected at ground level, as supposed to a monster Yucca that's exposed to the elements--and yet this cactus is by no means ironclad. I have known specimens to persist a decade or more, but eventually a strange winter comes along--I suspect if we were to grow enough from seed and select, reliably hardy strains might emerge--but meanwhile we should enjoy those we can persuade to stay with us for a while...don't ask me about the year I killed a dozen gathered from my ex-wife's land in Texas, or how the tenant who rented the land pulled the rest out lest they "cripple their horses"...
This unlikely candidate for Colorado gardens actually performed far better for us for far longer than any Echinocactus...Coming as it does from hundreds of miles further south in Nuevo Leon than even Yucca faxoniana, I would have never thought it would do. I'm glad I got lots of pictures of it when it was at its peak a few years ago--this was another casualty of our April misery this year...But we must try it again!
So is there a calculation to our risks, or is it just horticultural craziness that we plant these things and expect them to grow--you can be the judge!