It's Far From A Case Of No Wukkas For The Yucca

Nobody wants to be seen with the bogan bush in their backyard.

20/06/2016 4:30 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
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"Somewhere, Jamie Durie weeps."

Every weekend, in suburban backyards across Australia, a silent massacre continues.

Most of us don't even know it's happening, or maybe we just don't care enough to pay attention.

Perhaps, like me, you've come across the brutal aftermath during your midweek walk of the dog/cat. You've seen their bodies decaying on the nature strip, limbs scattered across the footpath almost as a warning to their kind -- "You're welcome here no more."

This phenomenon may never be spoken of by social commentators, politicians and community leaders, but it is one that is literally changing the landscape of this country.

This is the plight of the Yucca, a plant who has fallen from botanical fashion quicker than cargo pants* in the early 2000s (*House-and-Land-package Dads please take note... or just take them off!).

At the turn of the new millennium, the Yucca plant was as culturally relevant as David Beckham's abs, hair product and Nokia phones. And they had one man to thank -- Jamie Durie.


The jockey-sized, male stripper turned TV celebrity landscaper was pushing Yuccas in his garden designs like he had shares in them. There wasn't a square metre in a Durie-designed backyard that didn't feature one of these green-sworded bushes. I once saw an episode of his show where he planted one into the letterbox as a junk-mail deterrent.

You need to remember that this was a time of severe drought in Australia. Jamie's evangelical belief in these evergreen, drought-tolerant plants had every Tom, Dick and Shazza in the country planting out their fence lines with them.

At the height of their popularity, you could buy them in the supermarket. They had become such an essential commodity that the Reserve Bank considered including them in the metaphorical basket of goods used to measure CPI.

Then something happened. Yuccas were no longer cool.

Around the same time, Jamie Durie also disappeared from our TV screens. Was one responsible for the other's demise? That is something that only the tiny, buffed gardener and the hardy species of South American shrubs can answer, but one thing was certain -- Australia now thought the yucca was... yuk.

Well known for growing taller than expected, the Yucca was to become the victim of a cultural backlash. Besides cricket and self-congratulatory media coverage of our leaders appearing on the world stage, there is nothing this country loves more than to chop down a cultural icon that has grown too tall. This perennial centrepiece of early millennial gardens had, in the space of only a decade, come to be known as simply the 'bogan bush'.

The yucca has always been on-trend. Native South Americans used to harvest their roots for tea and their branches for early forms of erotic underwear. The only trend relating to yucca plants today, though, is one of removal. Nowadays, nobody wants to be seen with the bush of the bogan in their backyard.

Perhaps, sometime in the future, our children's children will re-embrace these plants, unaware of their dangerous potential to maim the human eye with both their pointy leaves and appearance.

But for now, we cull them. And somewhere, Jamie Durie weeps.

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