Saturday, July 24, 2021


Wickiup Reservoir

A recent news clip on local TV stopped me in my tracks with a big "WHAT?"  The newscaster went on to explain if the Deschutes River water level reaches a certain level, perhaps in August, Parks and Recreation will have to cease irrigating major public parks.  First and most alarming would be Drake Park in downtown Bend.  Think of your favorite park and it would probably be included.  How could this be?  Bend has always had the reputation for inviting green, grassy, mind refreshing public parks.

Yucca in Bloom


The news clip ended with short interviews of two residents, one from California and the other from Arizona, who both said brown grass in the summer was the norm for them.  We have much to learn in how to accept changes, even in our gardening.

I'm not sure if I've gone through another "quarantine" eye-opener, but it seemed when I was out and about doing errands that I was seeing a greater number of yucca plants either in full bloom or just starting to open.  All were well kept with last years brown leaves trimmed off .  To me it indicated that the homeowner was intentional with the planting and proud to show it off. Curiosity led me to call a nursery and inquire if they had any yucca plants.  "No, all sold out" was the answer with the added comment that more were due in the next plant shipment.

Maybe we are changing our thinking and becoming more conscious of water consumption and not taking our water for granted.  Maybe we are starting to set a different criteria for our garden purchases.  Maybe instead of grabbing up what is newest, biggest and most popular we are thinking more about water-wise and fire resistant choices.

Plant developers are faced with two specific conditions and challenges.  They are on the hunt for new plants that can withstand dry conditions and that will offer interest suited to smaller gardens and landscapes.  Emphasis is leading towards finding varieties of agaves and yucca.

The noticeable difference between agave and yucca plants is the shape of the leaves.  Yucca leaves tend to be long and slender often compared to the shape of swords.  Agave leaves stand out because of the spikes that run along the edge of the leaves.  Yucca is featured in both the Water-Wise and the Fire Resistant OSU Extension Publications.

Yuccas make a great low maintenance screen or garden accent, especially when the plant flowers.  I have three and finally one bloomed last year and again this year.  The other two are alive and well but not blooming.  Unfortunately I didn't record the year they were planted but I did learn that yuccas only bloom when they reach a certain age of maturity--still have research to do on that.  Regular fertilization and trimming encourage flowering.  Adding phosphorus-rich fertilizer or bone meal encourages flowers to form.

When I drive from Bend to Redmond on Deschutes Market Rd. and see fields not being irrigated I think maybe it is time to have a second look at the Water-Wise and Fire Resistant publications to make wiser purchases.  Our agriculture community needs all the support they can get.

Mark your calendar to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It Season Extension Techniques segment on Tues. August 3 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let us know what you think of Gardening in Central Oregon.