Monday, July 7, 2014

Smokin' and Boozin'...

First the smokin’…

I caught sight of that cotinus, or smoke tree, from my car, about a block away. It was so magical I had to turn around and take a couple of photos. Have you ever seen such a smokin’ smoke tree?

I love the contrast of the flat round leaves with the fluffy "smoke"…

These are usually seen as small to medium shrubs, it's so nice to see a tree...

On to the boozin’…I stopped in Hollywood Beverage the other day to grab a bottle of whiskey for my whiskey lovin husband (yes, here in Portland we actually have a neighborhood called Hollywood). As I was leaving I spied this in the pile of to-be-recycled boxes…

Of course I grabbed it, look at those beautiful agaves!

I couldn’t remember what the heart of the agave (from which the tequila is made) is called so I looked it up online (it's the piña) and that’s where I learned the harvester of the piña is called a “Jimador”…

“The harvester, or “Jimador” removes the agave leaves with a sharp curved tool called a Coa. He trims the 200 plus leaves that protect the heart or piña of the agave until the whole heart is extracted from the ground. Only the heart, or “piña,” of the agave plant is used to make tequila. Mature piñas weigh in between a hefty eighty and three hundred pounds; however, the size of the agave heart is not nearly as important as its sugar content. The older the agave, the longer the piña will have to accumulate the starches that will convert into fermentable sugars. Approximately, 15 pounds of agave piñas are required to produce one liter of delicious tequila.” (source - if you’re curious about the entire process and want to see pictures do click through!)

Here I am confusing my brands, two fingers is a different kind of tequila.

Of course I went back inside to see if the tequila bottles were as beautiful as the box…

Theses are the ones that really caught my eye.

You might think that’s it for the boozin, but you'd be wrong.

This bottle edging caught my eye outside Garden Fever...

Lest you think the staff is particularly boozy I should let you know there's a nice Italian restaurant next door (Lucca). Perhaps that's where the bottles originated?

And it's not all booze...

Here are a couple of new arrivals. On second thought maybe it's a group effort? The Garden Fever staff, the restaurant and the neighboring houses? They're all working together? That would be very Portland...

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

42 comments:

  1. I've always thought the "smoke" name was a little strange, but with this specimen I certainly see the billowing clouds of smoke! Looks other-worldly, but beautiful!

    My first thought with the bottles was: that's a lot of glass that won't be recycled. Then I relaxed and realized that once the labels are weathered away this is going to be beautiful!

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    1. This is the best example I've ever seen of the smoke, indeed other-worldly.

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  2. You had me at boozin'! I have a purple smokebush in my front garden that I've let become a tree. It smokes but never that bright. Like everything else in my garden it likely needs more sun. Maybe I should just drink more and forget about it.

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  3. I've often admired the intricate designs of tequila bottles. The more expensive the booze, the more intricate the bottle. Would love to see an Agave tequilana harvest in person!

    I wasn't sure about those bottle borders at first, but I actually do like them. They're quirky and creative.

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    1. Wouldn't that be fabulous! (the harvest) I see a great new (?) theme for expensive tours (we'll be rich!)...

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  4. So funny! Lotta smoke, no fire.Best I've ever seen. Such an amusing post! Gardeners can't/shouldn't take themselves to seriously, should they? After all, out here in the West, whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. Or irrigating plants.

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  5. I have never seen a smoke tree quite as good as that one, amazing.

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    1. Wish you could have seen it in person.

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  6. Loree, if you like those tequila boxes and labels, have you checked out Austinite Lucinda Hutson's new book, Viva Tequila! ? She's been to the agave fields in Mexico and writes about the harvesting and tequila making process -- the whole culture of it.

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    1. Thanks for the tip Pam, I'm checking it out right now.

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  7. Wow! That's an impressive cloud of smoke from the cotinus. Can't wait until mine starts smokin'. We like El Jimador and usually have some around. I often keep Tequila bottles if they have an agave embossed on them. Someday I need to figure out what to do with them.

    The bottle border is one of the best I've seen, I think the wall keeps it in check.

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    1. Thanks for the El Jimador recommendation, we were talking about trying it. One of Andrew's employees brought back some quality tequila from a trip to Mexico and it was amazing! You're right about the wall...

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  8. I've been contemplating a bottle border but R thinks it would be tacky...and perhaps reveal a little too much about our drinking habits. I say we can always claim that we've been saving bottles for years.

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    1. Saving for years and collecting from friends! It wasn't until just now that I remembered Karen Schwartz who works at Garden Fever has a great wine bottle border in her own garden. There is a photo on the homepage of her garden design website: http://www.calendulagardens.com/ perhaps she's behind the new installation at Garden Fever and could give you some pointers about doing yours?

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  9. The neighbors across the street have a smoke tree but I've NEVER seen blooms that magnificent. I've been thinking of adding one to my garden but, if the blooms got that big, the neighbor up the road (who "requested" removal of our Eucalyptus tree last year under our city's "view conservation" statute) would probably launch another campaign. Come to think of it, she's the reason the neighbors across the street cut their smoke tree back hard each year...

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    1. Kris they respond so well to pruning that you could plant one and keep it whatever size you want it to be.

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  10. Loved the Cotinus - thanks so much for letting us see it ourselves. As for the bottle border, I'm with Ricki's 'R' on that one. Would be too revealing of our drinking habits here - at least your example has the merit of being 'built' by a respectable number of contributors!

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    1. That's pure conjecture Cathy, I really have no idea who's behind it...maybe just a single neighbor?

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  11. I was the same as Alan in not really knowing why a smoke bush is called a smoke bush, but now it makes sense!

    So, what would you do if you saw Jimador loitering with intent with his Coa close to your prized Agaves?

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    1. I would take him to the nearest liquor store and buy him some tequila because the poor guy is not going to find a decent harvest here!

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  12. The heart of the agave is called a "piña" because with all the leaves hacked off, the heart looks like a pineapple (spanish for "pineapple").

    That is One awesome Cotinus. They never look very good here.

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    1. The heart as well as the poor plant (when just hacked, not harvested). It all makes sense now...

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  13. Most enjoyable mixed post Loree! That Cotinus looks spectacular, and interesting trivia learned there about harvesting agaves for making booze.

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    1. "mixed post"...are you guys playing along with the boozy theme?

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  14. That is a beautiful Cotinus! I always coppice mine so never get the 'smoke' Lots of interesting information about tequila. TFS

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    1. I cut mine back hard this spring so thought I wouldn't get any smoke either, still some showed up. I'd rather have big leaves than smoke anyway (and a plant of manageable size). TFS?

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  15. Beautiful tree, and I particularly like the bottle with the image in the glass

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    1. I think I might have to ask for one of those for my birthday, which is coming right up!

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  16. That's one incredibly beautiful smoke tree & cool bottle art!

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    1. Do you have a cotinus in your garden Peter?

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  17. I coppice my Cotinus so it never blooms--always have to weigh the shade factor ! This one is damn nice..maybe the bus will cruise by ?

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    1. Actually it could be in route, but probably nor smoking any longer since I took those shots on June 23.

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  18. That Cotinus is amazing, so pleased you stopped to take the photos. Sadly it also confirms that I was correct to rule it out for my garden, it is just too big for the spot I want to fill. The tequila bottles are great.

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    1. Ah come on, if I have one you can have one too! The trick is just to keep it from taking over...

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  19. I believe they harvest the agave just as it's gearing up to bloom, so that heart is full of all the energy that would go into the bloom stalk and flower production.

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  20. That Cotinus really is smokin'! My tiny one hardly looks smoky at all. It does seem to have a few little seeds, maybe I can try to get some to grow this year.

    The bottles make an interesting border, if they were at my house they would be choked with weeds. My weeds are very talented. I think it is Thanks For Sharing- TFS

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  21. I have been to Tequila, Mexico, and it is an awesome trip. I think this calls for you to schedule a trip there. Do you know they chop by hand the agave plants? And there is free flowing tequila to drink out of cow horns? Aye yeah yeah. It is an adventure and it's apparent you've been called to it. I look forward to the future post.

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  22. That is a beautiful speciman of a smoke tree! I've seen the trees around here, but none as beautiful as that.

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  23. Oh man, now I want a smoke tree (and a margarita). That one is incredible!

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  24. My Cotinus is a very light smoker, and never does it get such color in the flowers. Before I planted it, I read it should be cut back every year to maintain that foliage color, so I knew it would be no trouble keeping it small enough to not block traffic on the corner. I wish now I had put it somewhere that it could reach its full potential.

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