Monday, January 18, 2010

A surprise trip to Garden Fever and more agave talk

Shortly after I wrote about missing the ability to stop at my favorite nursery “just to poke around” my husband unexpectedly pulled into their parking lot (no he hadn’t read what I had written; I hadn’t even posted it yet!). We were headed elsewhere but he knew a look around the nursery was just what I needed. He’d brought a book and stayed in the car, telling me to take as much time as I wanted (I don’t do anything fast these days). Nice huh? Luckily the nursery has softly sloping ramps and concrete paths; it’s very easy to navigate on crutches. Things were looking pretty empty. There was only one other person outside looking around.

Naturally I stopped at the agave table. I was a little stunned by what I saw; many of their plants were starting to rot. Their agaves are under a roof covered area, the only water that they would have received would have been intentional and surely the nursery staff would know not to water the agaves in the winter! Is it wrong to feel better about my gardening when I see that a nursery is having the same difficulties? Their Agave Sharkskin Shoes looked so bad... Same for the Agave lechuguilla Shin Dagger… (ha! love the name)
The Agave parryi look fabulous though
As do the Agave hartmannii And Agave s. ferox 'Green Goblet'
Their Squid Agaves repeat what I saw at the Kennedy School plantings. Happy and healthy.
And their little Agave toumeyana also looked unfazed. Interesting, this plant in my garden also took the deep freeze in stride. Guess that means I should buy another one right? And look, with this one I get 4 for the price of 1! Sold. There were a few more plants hanging out under cover, but no people. Ever since seeing many amazing Beschorneria at the San Francisco and Berkeley Botanical gardens I’m thinking about adding to my collection of one. This Beschorneria 'Ding Dong' was tempting.Until I saw this one of the same species on the 50% off table. Maybe I don’t need another such temperamental plant?Below is my only Beschorneria, a Beschorneria albiflora. Doing great, but it’s in a pot and was brought in during the severe cold.
Next to the Beschorneria was a Genista aetnensis, this is a new plant to me but one I believe I seen at the AZ-esque landscape that I am obsessed with. I was tempted but figured I would go home and do a little research. Turns out this guy is a zone 9 plant and has irritating little yellow flowers, no thanks. Wow, a little color! And an artistic expired blossom. Back home I decided to go check out my agaves to see how they were doing. The A. toumeyana was looking as good as I remembered. Not so much with the Agave parryi – Parry’s Century Plant, Flagstaff form…the center was looking a little odd. I gave it a little tug. Oops.
Decapitated! This is not a happy ending.

Surprisingly the mushy leaved Agave gentryi 'Jaws’ is firm and solid in the center. Is there hope? Should I cut off the mushy parts? The formerly stellar Agave americana variegata are looking a little sad. Same thing though…I wonder if I should cut off the soggy leaves? Or leave them alone?But the Agave havardiana – Harvard’s Century Plant looks like a champ! And look…babies! The Agave americana I mentioned back on the 8th are back outside, camping under the shade (rain) pavilion with the other potted plants, but not looking any better.
Here is the 3rd in this group, the one that stayed in the garage during the deep freeze, it’s looking just fine. I wonder if there isn’t something to what Megan said about the sudden temperature change being to blame for the difference. Maybe I killed the others with kindness bringing them inside? I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my Agave striata, I tend to forget about it.
That’s not fair treatment for a solid trooper like this. I kept it in a pot for 3 years and just put it in the ground last spring. It’s rewarding me with a baby. And it hasn’t seemed to mind the wet cold, although it looks like I broke a couple of spikes trying to protect plants around it from the freeze. The danger garden agave trials continue! And no more agave talk this week, I promise!


  1. You can wax poetic about 'Parry' as long as you want! Wonderful collection you have, and the nursery trip... just what I needed on a dreary, cold winter's day! Thank you!

  2. But Teza I decapitated a 'Parry'!!! I figured you weren't going to talk to me anymore once you saw that!

    But I do still have the other one that's larger, in a pot. And he's just fine! Only the small one was killed.

  3. Aw, sorry about your trials and tribulations in the agave world! I saw some Parryi (I think) that looked fine here and we had the deep freeze too. Maybe drainage issue for yours? But you are always so careful about that! Hm. I am no help, but I sympathize and hope it gets easier to figure out which ones will work if the harsh winters become a regular thing. Glad you got out to the fun nursery and had it all to yourself!

  4. Oh no, poor parryi. Ah well, win some lose some. Your others look pretty good considering your winter extremes of cold and wet. I would leave the variegated Amer. agave alone for now; it looks like it's in pretty good shape.

  5. Hi Loree~~ Major kudos to hubby for his thoughtfulness. I want Agave stiata. After seeing how well yours is taking the winter beating I think I might just chuck all my phormiums and stick with A. striata. I trust you're healing is on track.

  6. Karen, not to worry! I have hatched a plan for summer 2010, this involves bringing in some gravel and soil and building up this bed. Better drainage = happier agaves. God I'm a freak! But at least I am enjoying myself, right?

    Pam, I hope your right. I would hate to think I'm sending more agaves to their death.

    Grace, you? An agave? YEA! I got mine at Cistus, I just looked their online Fall 2009 plant order form and they don't have this specific one right now but they do have dwarf form for $18...perhaps it's calling your name?

  7. I found my self with an hour to kill on the east side of town yesterday. Headed straight for Garden Fever to hang out wander and admire. The agaves were few and far between...s'pose they carted them off to intensive care? I could not resist the half price table. Great bargains to be had if you don't mind sickly looking plants that you know will revive come spring.

  8. Oh good you got out to Garden Fever, I would imagine it was starting to really wear you down not getting out, what a nice gesture for Andrew to stop by. Where are you now in the healing process? I'm thinking of a field trip to Cistus on one of these dry days, so if you want to go...
    I'm somewhat relieved now, I considered that Beschorneria 'Ding Dong' at the HPSO sale but for $65 and the staff not knowing much about its hardiness, I couldn't responsibly gamble. Looks like I finally made the right call.
    I can't believe Garden Fever didn't protect the agaves, but this may have been a learning year for them, the first year with a good agave selection and all. I'll have to hop down the street to that garden with all the agaves and the mature Sharkskin agave to see how it's doing.

  9. I'd let the leaves on the agaves alone until late spring - let them get crunchy, so you know when you trim it you won't cut into live flesh. We still have a lot of winter to go... even in your neck of the woods!


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