Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An idea, firmly planted

Hunting through old photos to find pictures for a post last week I came across these…
I remember first driving by this house in NE Portland in 2005, seeing this agave and being blown away! My naive gardening mind thought if they could do it then I could do it too! Not taking into account the steep rocky foundation on which this house sets. I soon found out that great drainage makes all the difference as the beautiful agave I planted our first summer rotted into a pile of slimy mush a month into our wet Portland winter.

After admiring this agave for about a year I began to see the early stages of its tell-tail bloom spike. These photos are from July of 2006 as it started to really put on a show. Nicely timed to go with the yucca blooms...
I was really disappointed the day the homeowners ripped out the dead agave and failed to plant another in its place. When you’ve had such success why not repeat it? Maybe they were new owners who didn’t appreciate what they had inherited?
My commute still takes me by this house almost daily but it’s never been quite the same since the agave bloomed and died.


  1. I think this is the house that, a couple of owners ago, used to sport a very Floridan scheme with many pink flamingos. It was a must-drive-by when showing visitors around Portland in the summertime.

  2. It's gorgeous! If it's a. parryi truncata, I'm totally inspired! Is this the house on Fremont at about 40-something?

    Thank you for the confession about killing your first agave - I've been feeling VERY guilty about my dying a. scabra, but now, sadder and wiser, I'm determined to do better by them all next year.

  3. Oh...I'm not very smart, Loree. I kept looking at the Yucca, thinking, "but yuccas don't die after they bloom." Scrolling back to the first photo and re reading your prose, set me straight. Okay, so Agave are like the diminutive sempervivums that bloom and die. I wonder if, also like the sempervivums, there were babies Agaves waiting to replace their momma. That house really is something.

  4. That is something else, the garden really suits the style of the house.

  5. I'm so intrigued by agaves after reading your blog :O) I see them everywhere now! I think they are super cool when they bloom like that. I think you're probably right that the people that didn't replant probably weren't the original owners/planters.

  6. ricki, pink flamingos huh? That must have been before my time as a Portlander, too bad!

    Jane, oh you just wait a couple of days. I've got more bad agave news coming up. My killing days are not over. Your right about the house being on Fremont, but off by about 20 blocks. It's at about 21st and Fremont.

    Grace, no I think I was just a bad photographer! I should have tried to get a picture that was more of the agave and less of the yucca! Yes, just like sempervivum there would normally be agave pups waiting around ready to repopulate the area, but I never saw any here.

    Susie, your right it does. The other (shady) side is fabulous too!

    MT Julie, I am SOOO happy to think that I might have something to do with someone else appreciating agaves! Thank you!

  7. In my barely-been-to-Portland patheticness, guess, what? I know exactly which house you showed here! We saw it last year around this time, and it knocked my socks off, so I can only imagine it in summer. It is truly a show-stopping (or in my case, a car-stopping-get-out-and-take-millions-of-photos) place. I remember you and Megan lamenting the unreplaced agave. Wonder why they didn't?

  8. I am pretty certain the original gardener left, and the new gardeners toned down what used to be a bright pink paint job. I feel the same way, disappointed every time I drive by. I've considered leaving an agave on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell, and running away.

  9. I'm so happy you had the foresight to take a picture of that agave. Wasn't that spectacular? It just kept going up and up and up. And though I know it's gone, completely and totally gone, I still look up there every time I drive by and hope that by some miracle...

  10. Karen, that house is rather memorable isn't it? I'm glad you saw it!

    Megan, I double dog dare you to do it!

    Patricia, I am so happy I found the pics, I forgot I had them. Maybe that is why I am disappointed every single time I drive by the house? Like you I am still hoping for it's magical return.


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