Photo/Illustration: Susan A. Roth
I’m addicted to spikes, spears, and swords. I’m not talking about medieval weapons; I’m talking about edgy, architectural plant forms that invigorate gardens with excitement. Give me a planting to design, from urban verandas to country courtyards, and I just can’t resist including a mix of spiky plants like yuccas, agaves, or prickly pear cacti. These plants always deliver, adding striking, structured form with their narrow leaves, pointy spines, and toothed edges.
Although many gardeners consider spiky plants strictly Southwest or desert inhabitants, these brash beauties are bucking their tender or difficult reputations by proving to be strong seasonal performers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Portland, Oregon. Given the right soil, drainage, and sun exposure, many spiky plants are hardier and more adaptable than gardeners may think.