Art in the Desert

Creating art is often a function of place.  The right place inspires and fires the imagination and gets the creative juices flowing.  The high desert of the San Simon Valley is one of those places.  The open spaces surrounded by mountains with views that are constantly changing with the light and time of year constantly provide new inspiration and generate new ideas.  One of those ideas was about creating artwork relying solely on living plant material found on the landscape.  The idea arose when the yucca stems shown below were found on the landscape.  A number of curved and tapering yucca stems were found near a small grove of yucca one afternoon while checking fence lines.  The unusual shapes immediately attracted attention and several were collected and placed as fence stays at the entrance to the Painted Pony Resort.  Yucca stems are common in the old fence lines around the valley and are generally easy to find when making impromptu fence repairs so adding them to an existing fence seemed only natural.   Since placing the curved yucca stems in the fence line many guests have commented on them, each seeing something different in the funny fence stays.  So an idea was born - how to make more curving yucca stems for the fence? 

Each spring all the yucca plants put out a vertical stem which supports the yucca flowers and eventually the seed pods.  These stems grow rapidly and in several days they may be several feet in length.  Choosing a yucca over at the Rustic Cabin which had just started sending up a new flowering stem and with some bailing wire the rapidly growing stem was bent and tied.  Within 24 hours the stem had grown enough to require another bend and more wire was used to train the stem into another curve.  This was continued on a daily basis until several curves were produced.  At this point the stem quite growing and began to flower so the yucca was left alone.  After the seed pods open, the stem will die and dry providing another curvilinear stem for an unusual fence stay for the resort.  Now that the process of training yucca stems is understood, it will be possible to create a number of the pieces next year.

Curved and tapering yucca stem

Tapering and twisted yucca stem

Growing curved and tapered yucca stems for fence stays


  1. I think this is a great way to add natural decoration to the Painted Pony Resort!

  2. Thank you. The "funny looking fence stays" have received numerous comments from guests and local ranchers, so I decided to make some more. Still working on the spider web fence though.

  3. We had a backhoe guy here, Fred, who told us you could even HEAR them grow, they grow so fast!

  4. I can believe that. It only took 24 hrs for the plant to reorient to the vertical and grow several inches of new stem.