Hiking to the end of Blakeney Point, a gravel spit that stretches 3.5 miles along the North Norfolk coast, in the middle of January isn’t what most people would chose to do on a day off, but that’s exactly what Liz and I did last Saturday. I worked for Urban Jungle throughout 2010, spent 2011 travelling and now, in 2012, I’m back at Urban Jungle. I’ll be Blogging about all that’s going on here at Urban Jungle and you can still follow Liz’s botanical musings on
Now anyone who knows Liz will know that even on the balmiest of summer days she can be found in the hothouse, amongst the plants, soaking up the heat and humidity with great relish. Bearing this in mind, my initial suggestion to her was “Do you want to see a fine specimen of a Yucca gloriosa?” Of course, being a plant junkie, she said yes, not knowing that it was growing at the end of windswept Blakeney Point.
Yucca gloriosa flowering at the end of Blakeney Point in mid winter.
We set off from Cley along the low tide-line into grey skies and a very brisk head wind. The dark skies made for a spectacular seascape when the sun broke through and we have the blustery westerly winds to thank for the mild weather of late. We paused from time to time to watch the Grey seals playing in the surf and lounging about on the beach and admired the patchwork of lichens, mosses and ferns as we made our way through the dunes in search of the Yucca. Quite incongruously, it sits overlooking the salt marshes not far from the old Lifeboat House. Despite its desolate location it appears to be thriving and even in winter was sporting a few flower spikes. If you’re looking for a plant that will tolerate exposed coastal locations and salt laden winds we can testify with great certainty that Yucca gloriosa will serve you well. As we trudged back along the top or the shingle ridge, helped along by the wind behind us and feeling refreshed, we wondered just how it got there!
Grey seal pups chilling out in the lea of the dunes. Blakeney Point is one of the best places in the country to observe seals. Grey seals give birth to their young between November and January.
A beautifully corroded wreck stranded atop the shingle bank.
Liz admiring the yucca in a fleeting ray of sunshine.
Yucca gloriosa (Spanish Dagger, Moundlily Yucca, Soft Tipped Yucca, Spanish Bayonet or Sea Islands Yucca) is native to the South Eastern coastal regions and Barrier Islands of North America. It is said that it can tolerate temperatures down to -20oC without damage and will tolerate prolonged periods of cold and snow unscathed. We know of several that sailed through last winter and think it’s an invaluable plant for any arid or exotic border thanks to its toughness, architectural form and spectacular flower spikes. It will form a multi headed shrub around 2m by 2m. The yucca on Blakeney point is closer to 3m high and 4m in diameter but this is a particularly old specimen. Just give it full of sun and excellent drainage then leave it to it. We’ll have Yucca gloriosa and variegated cultivars available this spring.