Clean up?

I wonder if old foliage covering the trunks of two yuccas (Yucca rostrata ‘Sapphire Skies’, below) should be removed. This is not a plant health question, but an aesthetic one. There’s no right or wrong. I’m certain the preference is completely personal.

My thinking is that keeping the browned leaves doesn’t look bad, and in no way is this garden manicured, so why clean up when informality is preferred? As much as I hate to admit it, a third, shorter trunked yucca was discarded a year ago without considering that it could have been easily transplanted elsewhere. In haste, poor decisions are made. I am too often hasty.

I don’t really mind that there are two yuccas, an even number that is heresy in garden design, and if this would catch someone’s eye today it won’t for long once the yellow leafed elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ‘Lemony Lace’) grows more to join the colorful jumble beside the stone patio (above). The combination with the purple leafed smoketree (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) will be tamed regularly so it doesn’t quickly overgrow the area, and both shrubs will be limbed off the ground to keep lower plantings for a real mishmash of texture and color.

While the loss of the Seven Son was disappointing, the Red horsechestnut planted in its place has quickly become a favorite.

The red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea, above) just behind is someday likely to grow too large, so I annually consider when is the right time to remove lower branches. Now, I enjoy the flowers close up, but conflicting shrubs and horse chestnut will soon demand this pruning. I see no reason to be proactive.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Yucca rostrata, to me, seems to be more elegant with bare trunks. Not many agree with that, particularly since Yucca rostrata is more popular within relaxed informal landscapes. It looks ‘softer’ with the beards of old leaves. I am not so certain that Yucca rostrata is easy to relocate. Tropical species of Yucca are ridiculously easy to relocate, and Yucca elephantipes is commonly plugged as huge cutting. I have plugged pieces eight feet long (because that happens to fit into the bed of the pickup) as fence posts. Two feet into the ground leaves a few feet above. Even if wobbly at first, they root quickly. However, species that are native to desert climates, such as Joshua tree, are more likely to rot, and some are very difficult to grow as cuttings. Joshua tree can be relocated, but are very susceptible to decay until they recover. Yucca rostrata may be even more difficult to relocate. I really do not know.

    1. Dave says:

      Three struggling yuccas were rescued from a shaded nursery display. They quickly thrived, except the smallest that was in damper ground.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Is that Yucca rostrata? I really should grow more of those. It really should be more popular here.

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