Petey Mesquitey modeling next to our selected beaked yucca.

The centerpiece of my design is a large beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata) grown in Cochise, Arizona by Mountain States Wholesale Nursery. Over 20 years (or maybe 30 years) ago, MSWN’s founder, Ron Gass, had the foresight to plant hundreds of these in the ground. He lets them grow into massive arborescent specimens, then puts them in containers, lets them root out, and sells them.┬áTheir silver/blue leaves bend and shimmer in the wind and their sheer size adds an instant vertical exclamation point to any garden.

Shopping for this plant took two trips, a stop to look at sandhill cranes, and a cheese sandwich for plantsman and Peter Gierlach (aka ‘Petey Mesquitey’). I am now the proud owner of a collection of photos of Peter standing next to several arborescent yucca species.


Our first, and later abandoned, blue yucca selection, and Peter Gierlach.

My first inclination was to use a giant blue nolina (Nolina nelsonii) (which MSWN also grows in huge sizes) as my central plant. In fact, I tagged a fine one on my first trip to Cochise. As it turned out, the blue nolina was too big and moving it would have likely crushed a fine steel planting bed we were making for it.

Even though the beaked yucca was my second choice, in some ways if fits both the small scale of my Growdown! design, and the silver color theme we’re using better then the blue nolina would have. And, moving it has less hernia potential for me and my team!