Many of the plants we use in borders – as beloved or colorful as they are- look like nothing more than flowering muffins.
And Yuccas are an antidote,one that works in every season. For when the muffins have retreated for the winter, the tough, hardy spikes of yucca soldier on. The gold yucca here complements the blue of the Russian Sage in the background, the green of the little boxwoods, and the gray of the Lamb’s Ears. In winter it will compliment the frost-
This garden is in Green Hills, a suburb of Nashville. Not a half mile away is the never ending concrete of the Mall and shopping centers. It is a heat island, and rosemary winters without trouble. On this property there are patches where Middle Tennessee limestone is so close to the surface that grass fails and the prickly pear cactus grows.
This garden goes unwatered, though in Tennessee that does not mean it is dry. June may have no rain in the gauge. July may have 8 inches. This describes this summer, when we had record heat of 109 degrees.
The two plants that dominate this garden are the old fashioned bearded iris which line the stone front walk, and the Lamb’s Ears, which have reseeded into masses. The irises fade out of bloom in April, then start to fray. The Lamb’s Ears-at least a third-rot in the humidity, and have to be torn out. Winter interest is in some small ground hugging junipers and dwarf nandinas, which do not have the colorful berries of their taller brothers in the foundation planting.
We have added Sedum ” Thundercloud”, Russian Sages, and “Homestead Purple” Verbena. The owner tried to add Phlox subulata, the Moss Pink, but it has failed to take hold. Now, we are going to repeat the gold yuccas up the border, and possibly add some Phlomis fruticosa, the Jerusalem Sage, our starts coming from the mother plant, pictured here, in the dooryard garden, which has yet to be renovated.
I think the contrast between the gray all season leaves of the Phlomis and the spikes of the yucca will be extraordinary.
The yuccas will do well. They are native to the Southeast and wise to its bizarre climate. They require only sun, and that they not be planted in a swamp.