Yuc­cas can put drama in your panorama

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Explore - BY NOR­MAN WIN­TER Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Look out, Amer­ica, Color Guard and Golden Sword are chang­ing land­scapes in dra­matic fash­ion. Be­lieve it or not, these two se­lec­tions of our na­tive Yucca fil­a­men­tosa are crush­ing the cookie cut­ter, looka­like land­scapes, no mat­ter the sea­son.

Now when I say our na­tive, I’m not talk­ing the desert South­west but the East from Texas to New York. That’s cor­rect these ever­green yuc­cas are cold hardy from zones 4 through 10. Color Guard and Golden Sword are ex­cit­ing ad­di­tions to the flower bed and will en­tice visi­tors to bring out their cam­eras.

Both va­ri­eties will reach 24 inches tall and per­haps a lit­tle wider show­ing off their green and gold var­ie­ga­tion. Why grow a gar­den of yucca, cac­tus and agave? The pal­ette of col­ors and part­ner­ships is only lim­ited by your imag­i­na­tion.

They pair nicely with be­go­nias and red spi­der lilies. What­ever the sea­son, or the pos­si­ble part­ner­ships, all will look daz­zling be­yond your dreams when grown with these showy var­ie­gated yuc­cas.

Right now, in Colum­bus, Ga., pro­fes­sional land­scap­ers are us­ing them as pansy pals, which look stun­ning and the pan­sies haven’t even kicked into gear, so to speak. But it’s not just pan­sies an­other has them with Citrona and Black Pearl heuchera as well as Jun­cus and pan­sies.

Typ­i­cally, ev­ery­one thinks of cab­bage, kale, mus­tard, and chard as fo­liage plants to be pansy part­ners which is cer­tainly ap­pro­pri­ate. They are treated as an­nu­als to be re­planted ev­ery year. With the Color Guard or Golden Sword, how­ever, you will be grow­ing one that is es­sen­tially an ever­green peren­nial.

In ad­di­tion to the ex­cite­ment it cre­ates by be­ing an un­ex­pected plant, it also stands out by virtue of ris­ing above the hor­i­zon­tal plane. If you are un­fa­mil­iar with this term, think of a bed of pan­sies, marigolds or even petu­nias. You could con­ceiv­ably draw an imag­i­nary line across the top of the bed. When you rise above this with spikey flow­ers or in the case of the yucca, sword-like fo­liage, then there is a tremen­dous amount of added in­ter­est.

As you might ex­pect from a na­tive, it is an ex­tremely drought-tol­er­ant plant that re­quires good drainage. If your soil is clay or muck that holds wa­ter, then, by-all-means, im­prove your soil and plant on raised beds. They will pro­duce off­shoots which can be re­moved and planted else­where in the gar­den.

I’m rav­ing about the fo­liage and ar­chi­tec­tural as­pects of these plants, but each spring-to-early sum­mer, there’s an­other rea­son to get ex­cited. These spikey plants pro­duce creamy white, lightly fra­grant blooms borne on 6-foot-tall stalks. These blooms are a de­lec­ta­ble source of nec­tar for hum­ming­birds.

It is a rare week that goes by that some­one doesn’t ask me about deer-re­sis­tant plants. If you find your­self the proud owner of a rov­ing herd, then re­joice; the Color Guard and Golden Sword yuc­cas will not be­come Bambi’s salad.

Hairy Soap­wort and Adam’s Nee­dle are com­mon names as­so­ci­ated with these yuc­cas. One look at the bright gold and green var­ie­ga­tion of these tough-as-nails plants, how­ever, will steal your heart in a “New York Minute,” and that is pretty darn fast.


These Color Guard yuc­cas seem to be the per­fect fo­liage part­ner for this newly planted bed of pan­sies.


The Color Guard yuc­cas stand out in this bed.

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