Sunday, July 13, 2014

Yucca...ShazzzAMM! Art vs. nature in the garden.

Yucca rostrata at Kendrick Lake
 There are botanists who would lump Yucca rostrata in with Y. thompsoniana, and both into Y. elata: fiddlesticks! Whatever it's ultimate taxonomic status, the plant we now call Yucca rostrata is utterly distinct and unique and just plain wonderful horticulturally (the others are all fine too--of course). When the rostratas start blooming around Denver in midsummer--right now is their peak--anyone lucky enough to possess one can hardly be blamed for preening and glorying. Alas, I'm not one of those lucky ones.

Yucca rostrata at Kendrick Lake
 Moving back a bit in the same bed, notice that the massive bloom--over a meter across and much taller than that--is imposing and creates a riveting focal point...

Yucca rostrata at Kendrick Lake
 Greg Foreman, the magician who masterminded this fabulous garden, has placed them strategically and this week they provide dramatic beacons that lure you on from one to the next throughout this dazzling dry garden.
Yucca rostrata at Yuccarama
 Be careful what you call things: we began calling the entry beds at the Education building at Denver Botanic Gardens "yuccarama"--appropriately enough: there's a throng of a half dozen species of these growing there. One day I was amused to see the nickname stuck: it was on the guided tour map! Never have the rostratas bloomed like this! The spectacle upstages everything around it, of which more anon...

Yucca rostrata at DBG
 I've photographed this assemblage at various times of day and night--I was particularly pleased with the twilight grouping, under the full moon: it was eerie and haunting, reminding my of a poem by Lorca or perhaps something inspired by listening to Rodrigo.

Yucca rostrata with full moon and Chihuly
 This is probably my best picture of them--I posted it on Facebook yesterday and have gotten a hundred "likes" with more rolling in each hour: proof that if you take enough pix one is apt to turn out...

Jan doing interpretive Yucca dance
 Possibly peeved that I was so smitten by the yuccas, my girlfriend, Jan, decided to do an interpretive dance of sorts--I think she's rather her pas-de-deux with Monsieur Yucca.

The other night I watched dozens of people photograph themselves alongside this Chihuly sculpture which was brilliantly sited smack dab in the middle of Yuccarama. If there is one thing sharper than a yucca it's a glass yuccoid! For the nonce, I think the flowering rostrata gives the sculpture a run for its money (although I admit that neither sculptures nor yuccas run). When its lavish crown of flowers fades, art will once again outpace nature!


  1. Yuccarama is fantastic. Their flowers are spectacular. I know it can set them back a bit and make them look a little unruly while they recover, but it is worth it for those blooms.

  2. Be careful, a love affair with that who resides in darkness will require you to venture out into the night. And Yuccas are undoubtedly creatures of the night. The Yucca barricades itself in bayonets to protect itself from all sorts of critters that scurry through the twilight. The flowers of a yucca can cast a spell over a person with just as much power as it can attract a moth. Be on guard, the hour when the Yucca’s spell is most attractive is also when the undead walk the earth.


    1. Aha!, James, you are obviously under their spell as well!


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