Free plants!? Those aren't plants, those are Yucca rostrata! And I know that house, I've walked by it many times—those Yucca rostrata are huge! "You will need a shovel"... ha, ya, and then some.
So I thought for a moment. Who should I forward this info to? Who do I know that would see this as a desirable challenge? Ah yes! Eric Peterson. If you've read my book, Fearless Gardening, Eric and his partner Robert were profiled in the final chapter. As I wrote there: "Eric estimates about two-thirds of his plants are in containers, and more than half were acquired via road-trip plant shopping. He thinks nothing of spotting an unusual plant on Craigslist and driving to California to pick it up. A recent buying trip was up to Ellensburg, Washington, where he scored the top of a large, old-fashioned windmill, now anchored to the back of the house." Eric is always ready to seize an opportunity when it presents itself.
The text from Wes came in at 9:17am and by 10:57am I was walking up to the rescue location. Eric was already at work...
Here he's moving gravel away from the base of one of the Yucca rostrata...
Three others, up next...
That one over there, that's Holman. He went home with me, but we'll get to that in a bit.
Here's the root system of the first one Eric dug/pulled/lifted. It doesn't look like much, but we think (hope) it's enough.
I've posted photos of this garden before here on the blog, and on my Instagram feed. Instead of trying to hunt those photos down I took a screen shot (below) of a Google Maps image from May of 2019. The yucca were tiny then! The gorgeous towering Eucalyptus was dying and came out earlier this spring. The homeowner (she didn't plant these plants but has owned the home since 2018) tried to save it but was told there was no way.
With the eucalyptus gone she decided it was time to plant the garden she wanted, rather than the garden she inherited. That's why she wanted to get rid of the Yucca rostrata, she called the gravel and yucca "a moonscape"—to each their own.
Yep, there once was a eucalyptus here...
There are yucca roots so close to the surface! We'd just pulled back the gravel and there they were...
This photo is after Eric had shovel cut all the way around, there was layer upon layer of landscape fabric under that gravel.
He then attached a tow rope and used his truck to pull the yucca the rest of the way out (I shared a video on my Instagram page, here).
The first one did not have the thick trunk that tore, just roots.
We were a little concerned (would they recover from this?) so sent a photo to Sean Hogan, who has moved many a rostrata, his reply "Yes, should be fine...just let it dry for a few days"
Here Eric is loading the 4th big bad boy into his truck. He had a hand truck and a winch to help with the work, but still had a lot of weight to lift himself.
Here's the empty landscape with all the yuccas removed. The homeowner says she has a garage full of plants waiting to go in. She want's to start planting and was considering taking a saw to the yuccas. Can you imagine? I can, that's what happened to the bunch of nice Yucca rostrata I wrote about in this post.
Anyway, here's Eric's VERY full truck. There are four sizable yuccas in there...
Here's my yucca, Holman, at home, in the back of Andrew's Subaru. He's named Holman because that's the street he used to live on.
He's hanging out in a bit of a holding pattern. I need to round up a pot big enough to plant him in so I can finalize the plans for where he's going to live. I have some ideas but nothing immediate. Like I said, this wasn't how I expected to spend my Sunday! Thank you Eric for jumping on this and all your work to rescue these beauties!
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