Friday, May 9, 2014

An update on the Agave burial mounds…

I've always been somewhat skeptical of mounds or berms in the garden. Unless done well they just look silly. Like you buried an elephant and then planted on top of it. I'm not claiming these are done well, but I don't mind them and the plants appreciate the extra drainage they provide.

However when I think of them the word "burial" is inevitably part of the name, "the agave burial mounds." Particularly appropriate after last winter, since a few agaves met their death here, as noted in the photo below. Top left (the blue agave) was an Agave americana, center below that an Aloe striatula, both gone. The Agave bracteosa in the lower center (corner) would have been okay, if the neighbors cat hadn't laid on it and it's sibling just to the right. As for the A. americana 'Variegata' that's just the beginning of a pattern for the variegated agaves...

This is how that same area looks now. The dead ones came out and new ones went in. Overall I'm quite happy with the success and not upset at the failures.

This Agave 'Royal Spine' has pride of place in the corner, it's not particularly hardy but I got it for a great price so I'm experimenting.

An aeonium which as been over wintered for years now. It starts out tiny and bulks up as summer progresses. Then I pull it in the fall and the cycle starts anew...

Ditto for the Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'...

This is the superstar of this planting Agave bracteosa it just keeps on looking good year after year...

And this little Saxifraga bloom is pretty sweet too...

This is the second burial mound, photo taken last November and subsequent deaths noted.

The look of this entire area is so different now, with the looming privet gone and a couple other big plants dead.

Yes I lost an Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’, and yes I replaced it with another.

Agave gracilipes

A pair of tiny Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' pups which made it through the winter.

Agave schidigera 'Black Widow', it had been in the house and on it's last leg. We'll see how it does here...

I decided to go for it and planted my beloved Grevillea x gaudichaudii here...

I won't hesitate to dig it up if bad winter temperatures are predicted.

And now here we are at burial mound #3, as it looks now...

And last November, deaths noted. See what I meant about a pattern? There were some supposedly hardy variegated ones in there but they're all dead dead dead.

I do still need to spread compost mulch, or maybe I'll decide to use pea gravel like on the others. Either way don't look to close okay?

One of the survivors, Agave neomexicana...

New this year (and no, not hardy) a blooming Echeveria 'Perle Von Nürnberg'...

NOID Opuntia from T or C, New Mexico.

Opuntia polyacantha

Opuntia santa rita

And the view from dog level, as I sat down on the lawn and gave Lila a few much deserved tummy rubs...

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

31 comments:

  1. You are weathering those losses well and filling in with good plants always helps. There does seem to be a pattern with the variegated agaves not being as hardy and that's the same in south Texas. Odd that a cat would choose the agave but then A. bracteosa is not as prickly as some. We even need agave mounds in south Texas for those torrential rains we get between stretches of drought.

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    1. The evil cat did it's lodging back when I had burlap and reemay laid down to protect the plants from the freeze. I'm sure it was a nice soft place to rest, and in the sun too.

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  2. Looking at the "now" photos, you'd never know you lost so many plants. You did a great job filling in the gaps.

    What is it with variegated agaves? Just a coincidence that you lost so many, or are they less hardy than they're non-variegated brethren? Going through the list of hardy agaves in my mind (well, the ones I can think of), none of them is variegated.

    BTW, where did you find that Agave gracilipes? I've been looking for one for a long time.

    And finally: I'm glad you got another Agave gentryi 'Jaws', What a beaut.

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    1. Thanks! And a lot of them were pups from plants (or friends plants) so there wasn't a huge cost associated. I do think the variegated ones are just less hardy, interesting eh?

      The Agave gracilipes is from Cistus, do you want me to grab you one if they still have them the next time I'm there?

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  3. Love the "burial mound" moniker. My Agave mound certainly lives up to that name, with three of three kicking it last winter. Unlike you, I no longer have any Agaves.

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    1. I am sorry to read that Alan, a garden with no agaves, well that's just not a garden...

      Did I send you an Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' pup? I'll dig one to give you when you're out here for the Fling...

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  4. Great info, danger! All of mine are always planted high and I think it's part of the success of any yucca/agave. Noted on the variegated agave. I had my agave medio picta alba and agave americana variegata survive in an unheated shed in front of a window but lost my planted agave americana variegata.

    The new bed looks wonderful! I love it! And those perle von nurnberg echeveria are a nice seasonal touch. In sheltered areas echeveria agavoides 'lipstick' and echeveria glauca are worth trying. They both survived last winter for me.

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    1. Indeed Louis, anything we can do to increase the drainage here in the non-desert. I can't believe you had echeveria agavoides 'lipstick' and echeveria glauca live through last winter, that's amazing!

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  5. The update mounds look great, Loree. That 'Royal Spine' is choice. I'm committing myself to acquire more Agave in the coming year as strategies to address both the drought and the regular incursions of my raccoon neighbors. I see another trip to OC Succulents in my future...

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    1. Yay for more agaves! Yours will be so big and beautiful in no time.

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  6. Those must have been swami cats looking for a bed of nails.
    As you know, I'm big on berms, but I never look at them without chuckling over your comparison to elephant burial grounds.

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    1. Glad to provide a chuckle now and then...

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  7. That is a very nice view Loree! And had if not you mentioned about your losses last winter it would be easy to think that no replanting had to be done there.

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    1. Yay, that's a great compliment guys.

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  8. Everything looks great, even if some the changes resulted from deaths. Such is the nature of gardening. Grow, little grevillea, grow!

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    1. Imagine that grevillea growing over the edge of the wall like the one in this post:
      http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-wave-garden-san-francisco-garden.html
      Heaven!

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  9. Sorry for your losses but you seem to be rebounding with aplomb! Your beds look great and your garden will be a highlight of the Fling!

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  10. Lookin' spiky and fab, no looking back, only onward!

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    1. Indeed, we are gardeners...we are tough!

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  11. Actually, I think I like your new additions and the new arrangements and combinations better. The mounds do seem like they'd be good for succulent drainage. Your garden beds look great!

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  12. Flawless. I'm still marveling at how different everything looks with the privet removed. I can't wait to see it in person!

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    1. The other day a friend remarked that she wasn't prepared for how different the garden felt, and she didn't mean in a good way. I'll be curious what you think...

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  13. It's beautiful in such a spiky, textural, colorful way. You have such great style!

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    1. And you are a very kind commentor....

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  14. I just love your garden !!!! It is my dream garden, alas I live in a cold country so no cactusgarden for me ! Have you ever tried covering your plants in Winter with fleece ? It keeps the rain out cos it is the rain that stands still at the bottom of your agave leafs that kill them in Winter. Fleece is very thin and lets air and light in and keeps the wet out and it is not expensive.

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    1. Thank you! Yes I have used the horticultural fleece for protection, but only in the cold/icy times not for regular winter protection. I'd miss actually seeing my plants! (but thank you for the advice).

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  15. Anything magical about your agave mound soil? Do you mix in any extra grit? I have a neighbor across the street with a large agave in her front yard (up in Bellingham).. People grow a lot of boring plants up here - very few zone 8 plants, maybe they all died (shrug).

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    1. I do! First off I saved up about a million (not quite) small rocks that I'd run across while digging elsewhere in the garden and used them to build up the area. Then I mixed in liberal amounts of pumice and/or gravel (depending on what I had around at the time) with native soil and a little potting soil. I also used larger (hand sized) rocks to anchor the edges to help keep the mounds from sliding away. How lucky are you that you have an agave across the street. Maybe you and your neighbor can start a cool plant revolution? So many people have no idea all the cool plants that are available to them.

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  16. I really enjoy the tapestry look you're able to pull off with your smaller specimens of agave. So many of those quickly grow to monster size here in Austin, under the Death Star, which they love, that we have to space them out much farther. While your winters may take a toll on them, perhaps it's worth the tradeoff in order to be able to use them as you do. It's really lovely.

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