Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Agave Report May 2017, front garden

I guess I'd better get on with a good blogger I took photos (on April 27th) but then still couldn't quite decide how to go about sharing them. How to compare the "now" with what was before? Finally I decided to cut my previous Agave report, filed on Nov 1, 2016, in with the current reality. It makes for a long post so I'm separating the front garden (today's post) and the back garden, which we'll see tomorrow.

In case you're just tuning in. Winter 2015/16 was a mild one, so everything in the garden as running on a few year high. That all came crashing down with winter 2016/17 and its multiple ice storms, cold temperatures and snow, lots of snow...which certainly overstayed its welcome. Then we had more rain than, well, ever. Records were broken, and rain continued to fall. It's been one for the record books no matter how you slice it. What two things are the enemy of happy Agaves? Wet and cold. Wet and warm, not a problem, happy Agave. Cold and dry? Hey, no problem, they'll just hunker down. But wet and cold...okay, ya, you get the point, on to the photos...

Nov 2016 - the focus here was on the big blue Agave americana at lower center. It went in the ground in 2012, it's the pup from one of my in-laws plants which grew in their garden in New Mexico. It had been through the bad winter of 2013/14 and survived.

I had high hopes it would pull through again. Then these splotches started showing up mid-February.

Photos taken after I severed a couple of mushy arms. Hoping that would be the end.

But things just continued to go down hill.

Many times when I was working in the front garden people stopped to comment on it. Visiting friends commented on it. My husband repeatedly commented on it. These were not comments of the positive variety.

Despite its less than lovely looks it was still very much alive. I didn't want to give upon it.

Nobody puts my Agave baby in the yard waste container! (ya, lame 'Dirty Dancing' reference and I haven't even seen the movie). Suffice to say I'm not giving up on this one, although I have moved it to a slightly less visible location.

Agave 'Silver Surfer' then.

Agave 'Silver Surfer' now. No problems, other than a couple splotches.

A pup from one of my A. parryi 'JC Raulston', separated and planted at the base of the Genista aetnensis. Then...

Now. A little knocked back, but hey...still alive.

A pair of A. bracteosa. Last November...

And now. Ha! They laugh at winter.

Here's the first of several Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' — and pups — then. I've previously joked about these Agaves being made of plastic, becasue they never show any signs of stress.

Well that's not the case any longer. They're definitely voicing their displeasure with the winter weather.

Unhappy mamas, unhappy pups.

Another A. parryi 'JC Raulston', Nov 2016...

And April 2017...

Another, then...

And now...

And another! Then...(with a pup of Agave parryi var. couesii on the far right)...

And now. Yes, they've got some battle scars. They're no longer picture perfect...but...they're still solid, not mushy...and I'm confident they'll grow out of it. A few new leaves push out and all will be forgotten (come on heat!).

I kind of vacillate between being upset they've taken such a hit, to thinking how remarkable it is they look this good, after what they've been through.

The Agave parryi var. couesii pup is looking pretty good!

Wide-shot last fall...

Looking closer (another photo from fall), going left to right/counter clockwise, first is a gift-pup from the humongous Agave in this garden (now DEAD and gone). A. utahensis also DEAD and gone, and A. ocahui...

Which lives on, wounded but not dead...

This one was cut out of the above photo, A. ovatifolia, not 'Frosty Blue' (then)...

And now...a few spots, a severed arm, but it soldiers on.

Wide shot (now) with the surviving Agave ovatifolia and A. ocahui, as well as (at the bottom) what I believe is A. havardiana...

The A. havardiana in happier times...

And now...

When I posted this photo last November Gerhard said he thought it might be Agave schidigera 'Black Widow'. Whatever it was it's DEAD now.

Another image from 2016, a sibling to the Agave shown at the beginning.

This was it the day I finally dug it out of the garden.

Can you guess? Yes, the last A. parryi 'JC Raulston' circa 2016.

And now. There's a big bad spot in the shadow, the entire leaf has gone south since this photo, surgery is needed.

Another A. ovatifolia, 2016...

And now...

A pair of Agave bracteosa, then.

And now, the small one just died out.

NOID, a gift from my brother years ago...pictured Nov 2016 and now DEAD (in all fairness I did not think this one was hardy and expected it to die, I only planted it out because it was so unhappy in a container).

Another inherited NOID pictured 2016, and also now DEAD.

Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw' then, and now DEAD.

The front planting, Nov 2016.

Wide-shot 2017.

The poor Agave americana that bore the brunt of the Agave Edema episode, picture 2016.

And photo taken (with my phone) right before I pulled it out and threw it in the compost bin. In case you're wondering the center was not solid, it fell off in my hands.

Agave utahensis then...

And now.

My A. parryi from The Ruth Bancroft Garden, then...

And now. Just look at this thing, perfection! Ruth has amazing genes, btw I am now calling this one Agave parryi 'Notorius RBG'...

Another Agave from the area to the left of the front door, which I think is A. havardiana (then).

And now. That yellowing on the arm on the right has progressed and it's been removed.

There's also a tiny pair of A. toumeyana var. bella nearby, gifts from Gerhard. I neglected to photograph them last fall, but had to include them now — because they're doing so well!

On the other side of the front steps is an extremely autumn scene, what with the colored up Amsonia, yes this image is from Nov 2016.

And now...

The largest A. ovatifolia now has some nice winter brown spots to go with the the white spots from it's little episode with Agave edema.

Poor thing. But it's still solid and I have every hope new leaves will soon push out and hide the ugly.

Another Agave utahensis pictured in 2016.

And now.

The second (slightly smaller) Agave ovatifolia, then...pristine!

And now. Spots. Of course I'm banking on all these spots being obscured by new foliage growth. Will they continue to get bigger (the spots), or stay the same size? I honestly don't know...

I had to cut a couple of mushy arms off. But the wounds have dried up nicely since this photo was taken.

Again, they're not without their battle scars but they are alive...

This pup-filled area is a photo from 2016.

The variegated A. americana were pulled before winter. Most of the other pups turned to mush, this guy however is carrying on. I have no idea what he is exactly, other than a survivor.

One more, from then, a NOID Agave on the left, and A. parryi on the right.

And now.

I fear this was terribly confusing what with the hoping back and forth between "then and now" — but I needed a way to document the things I've already dug and tossed, and the differences in how things look. Tomorrow we move to the back garden and I'll share a wrap up of my thoughts on it all.

Weather Diary, May 17: Hi 57, Low 47/ Precip .19"

All material © 2009-2017 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Condolences. Looking forward to the wrap up!

    1. Thanks Hans. I can't remember, do you have any Agaves in the ground?

    2. I have one a. parryi in a large permanently outside pot, and it seems to be doing fine. My others are in pots because I am too risk-averse. :)

  2. I wasn't confused at all with the hopping back and forth. I did notice you tactfully avoided posting photos of some of the corpses, opting instead to just comment, "now dead." I've been hanging onto an Agave utahensis, intending to eventually plant it in the ground in the gravel garden. Nice to see yours survived this horrible winter.

    1. I appreciate that you credit me with tact, it's really just laziness. When I felt like pulling them out I didn't really want to backtrack and get the camera.

  3. Humming 'Taps' for you Loree. So sorry for your losses. So many. :'(

    1. As long as the ones with the spots pull out of it I will be happy, but thank you!

  4. This was a painful post to view. I can imagine how you feel.

  5. Looking at these images I am not sure if we grow anything equivalent here. Maybe
    dwarf conifers and Jp. Maples that get brutalized by winter, worst is pruned and then you just wait out the recovery. But dealing with that seems different than what you are facing.

    1. It's definitely a crazy thing I'm doing. Growing dry and hot loving plants in Portland.

  6. I'm sorry your plants had such hit but I can share your pain as I had similar happenings over here. The most painful thing is when you get rid of all the old damaged stuff and then more appears and more and finally just this spike is left in the center. Never give up. I once had a sharkskin agave that the center just pulled right out. I left it and it began producing new babies all around the bottom.

    1. Yes! You're right. The slow progression is definitely trying. Your hope being slowly taken away...

      I am sorry for your sufferings, I think yours are more difficult than mine, after all you live in an area where you should be able to grow these guys with no issues.

  7. Lindas as imagens.

  8. I lost my Parryi this winter as well, but to rain , not cold. And it was touch and go with 'Arizona Star' but it is growing nicely and will have a full recovery. I feel particularly bad about your ovatifolias.

    1. Hopefully I'll be sharing beautiful photos in a few (hot) months...

  9. Mostly good results, very good actually despite some casualties. The markings aren't too bad either and most will be gone and a distant memory when summer growth spurt kicks in (hopefully anyway).

  10. It's not as bad as I feared but this is just the front yard that has a bit of a slope (right?) and more gravel than the back. Sorry for your losses, especially of the big beautiful A. Americana in the first shot. Just think of the fun replacement shopping you can do!

    1. Yes, the front yard has the best as far as drainage and sun. As for replacement shopping, fun as it may be, I'd rather stick with what I had...

  11. Very discouraging winter we've endured. All of my outside agaves were covered and mostly dry, but I still had losses too. I need to look at Agave bracteosa! "They laugh at winter" is a good recommendation!

    1. Oh yes, you do! They're fabulous. There are more in today's post.

  12. I'm super impressed with Agave ovatifolia and Agave bracteosa--especially the latter since I didn't know it was THAT hardy. In spite of your losses, there's a lot of good news in this post, not just for you but also for everybody else in a similar climate who wants to plant agaves.

    1. Agave bracteosa is a winner, there's no doubt about that.

  13. I'm with the others in saying while it is horrible to have so much damage from an outsider looking in you had a lots of survovers. If you wintry was that bad, that is good news for the future. But I totally undrstand how gutting it is to have damage to prestine agave, especially having just got over one problem.
    One another note your agave parrying rbg looks very similar to the one I know of a hk1864. I wonder if they came from same original location.

    1. Interesting. I clicked over to your Agave report and yes, the hk1864 does have a resemblance. I picked up my 'RBG' in a pile of unplanted, unlabeled, pups that I believe were dug up around the garden. Next time I'm there I will try and find it's mama!

  14. Poor spikes. While I'm dreading the heat and anticipating two dead baby madrones as a result, I do hope it helps your survivors grow out of their damage. Some good should come out of this upcoming weather. I noticed a healthy, happy Erica arborea in one of your photos. I remember you were a little worried about how it handled this winter.

  15. Not bad at all, considering the winter. My Ovatifolia bit the dust before the new year. But my JC Raulston powered thru with a few blemishes and one lost leaf. If that's as bad as it gets, I cool with that.


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