Tag Archives: shrub border

Winter Yucca

Yucca in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

Because yucca originates in hotter climates than the Canadian west coast, I’d expect it to be in its glory in the summer, but I appreciate it the most during our drizzling grey winters.

In truth, yucca is pretty spectacular in the summer when it blooms… IF it blooms.

This photo shows a lovely patch beside a very busy road.  Local deer aren’t cocky enough to hang about there.  They prefer our yard.

variegated yucca w. flower buds
photo by SVSeekins

Although the deer have no interest in the tough leaves, the funky flower stalk is another matter.  It was only allowed to grow to the point that it was just unfurling to stand straight up & bloom.  Then it became too much of a juicy delicacy for the deer to leave alone.  So, no yucca blooms in our garden.

Still, there are plenty of other reasons I keep yucca around.

  • it transplants like a dream (kc gave me this variegated beauty when she was downsizing to a tiny property)
  • it’s fun to pass on the favour – I enjoy sharing the ‘pups’ that pop up along the base of the plant
  • drought tolerance
  • the shape & texture balances nicely against the leafy plants in the border
  • it’s evergreen & just does its thing consistently with minimal care
  • I can return the favour to kc – she uses the cut leaves in her fabulous flower arrangements
  • It’s a member of the Agavaceae family – and that’s where tequila comes from   🙂

On the other hand, Yucca are spiky & sharp.  I don’t usually go for plants that can cause me harm.  In this case, I make an exception for a couple of reasons:

  • I wear glasses – and that protects from a wicked poke, while also helping me see.
  • I always wear full sleeves – and that protects me from the yucca scratches if I happen to rub against it, while also helping me avoid sunburn
  • Yucca doesn’t grab at me like a rose or blackberry does.  I really dislike that whole clingy thing.
Yucca in the autumn garden
photo by SVSeekins
Yucca in the spring gardenA
photo by SVSeekins

In our yard, the yucca gets lost in the garden bed much of the year.  It mostly acts as an anchor as my eye skims over it in favour of spring bulbs, summer blooms or fall colour.

But it shines in the winter garden!

Yucca in the winter garden
photo by SVSeekins

It’s so lovely to have something to look at when so much else has died back into dormancy.

Yucca proves it’s worth as a winter focal point.  The variegated colour really pops in the grey winter light.

That’s the biggest reason I keep Yucca in our yard, and that’s why I like to call it “Winter Yucca.”


© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013. 

P.S.  You might enjoy these stories:

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Forsythia Through Four Seasons

It’s taken a couple of years for me to really appreciate Forsythia in all seasons.

ws - Forsythia in April
photo by SVSeekins

Yes, Forsythia is at its best in spring.  Every morning through March, I sit with my coffee & ponder the coming growing season.  As I’m peering out the kitchen window, my anticipation builds as the buds on the Forsythia show more & even more promise.

I’m energized by the sunny yellow blossoms in March & April.

Each year I feel so desperate to see any spring colour.   Forsythia will never be challenged over its prominent real estate between our driveway & the kitchen entrance.

For all that hoopla, it’s easy to forget about Forsythia for the rest of the year. But that would be ignoring the assets.

ws - Forsythia in May
photo by SVSeekins

In April & May, the yellow blooms give way to yellow-green leaves.  Like the rest of the garden, the shrub begins to fill out, supplying much-appreciated privacy.

ws - Forsythia in June
photo by SVSeekins

By June, Forsythia is a steadfast background green and working hard to compliment the new flowers in the garden parade throughout the entire length of the summer and into the fall.

ws - Forsythia in early October
photo by SVSeekins

When the brisk winds of October arrive, Forsythia again steps up for a more significant share of the garden interest.  The yellow, apricot and red leaves add lovely colour to the fall palette.

For Halloween, they’re even more vibrant.  No wonder Forsythia has become one of our garden mainstays!

ws - Forsythia in late October
photo by SVSeekins
ws - Forsythia in late December
photo by SVSeekins

By December, Forsythia is naked again.  That’s not my favourite look for a shrub… but I understand that without the barrenness of winter, the spring probably wouldn’t be as exciting.


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Another indispensable:

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Strawberry Tree vs Urban Deer


arbutus unedo flower in autumn, strawberry tree, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins
  • They’re evergreen – that’s a big plus in my book.
  • They have pretty little flower clumps – a 2nd season for interest.  That’s another plus.
arbutus unedo berry in autumnstrawberry tree, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins
  •  They even have edible fruit!  Well, it’s not tasty, but it is edible.  And dangling strawberry-like fruit hanging from a shrub is funky – a 3rd season of interest.

That’s 3 plus signs!  They seemed a perfect choice for my shrub border.

  • They’d give the yard some privacy from the street.
  • They wouldn’t be too tall to interfere with utility lines overhead.

I had to have one! Okay, 3 – because they’re so cool.

  • It turns out the deer think strawberry trees are cool, too.  And delicious.
arbutus unedo protected from deer
photo by SVSeekins

For the bushes to survive & grow to any height, I resorted to protecting them with stucco wire.  It’s worked well.  Instead of being deer pruned, knee height, struggling little bushes, they’ve grown over my head in just a couple of years.

I think they’re kind of pretty. And the dangling strawberries are definitely funky. But the ‘protective custody’ sort of ruins the ‘nature at it’s finest’ vibe.

arbutus unedo - no protective cage
photo by SVSeekins

I removed the wire protection from the 3rd tree this summer. An experiment.

Strawberry Tree vs. Urban Deer.

Blooms only on the top section.

Fullness trimmed out of the lower section.

My guess is that the deer can only reach so high while they’re helping out with the pruning.

Now the experiment continues with crossed fingers.  Hopefully, the deer will leave some of the lower branches though the winter.  Otherwise, this strawberry tree might end up being shaped a little less like a shrub, and a little more like a tree.

There’s a word for that, isn’t there?  A standard?


© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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