Friday, June 4, 2021

A mess, a move (forever home) and surprises

Before we dive into today's blog post I should share that I put it together prior to the events I wrote about on Wednesday. Back when I was still actively gardening. I also have an update on my ankle. It's broken. A fracture of the fibula—I guess that's the biggest surprise of all. Current thinking is that it will require surgery but I'll know more after my appointment on Tuesday afternoon, in the mean time, I'm in a boot and on crutches. No weight on the ankle! In other words, I am not gardening like this...

—   —   —

I'd been working on a new planting project. I limbed up the loquat so it could finally look more like the tree it is, which meant I had shady space to plant underneath... fun! So I finished planting, and like a good blogger I wanted to take photos. It was late though, I went in to fix dinner and thought... tomorrow. Then this happened. A windstorm swept in and crap from the fir trees behind us rained down...

Obviously this isn't the newly planted area, but it looks similar to this. Forget the nice compost mulch I'd just spread, the dark brown is now heavily spotted with orange.

Who would have thought two tall fir trees—this is #1...'s #2, leaning in—could drop so much crap in just a 24 hour period. 

But they do...

And they did...

It was everywhere! No, I am not looking for your ideas on clean up. I'm just sharing the mess.

The container plant disaster mess.

Which is especially irritating when it involves agaves.

Water is fun too—not.

Buckets and buckets later (actually several 11-gallon tubtrugs) I finally had most of the mess cleaned up. That wind storm was insane. I'm used to these many cones falling gradually, not all at once.

In more exciting news, Mr. Big was moved and just may be in his forever home, finally. 

Who's Mr. Big? My oldest agave, a variegated Agave Americana that I bought at Rare Plant Research back in 2006 or 2007 (record keeping pre-blog is a little hazy). That's him on the right, in his new container.

Here he was in August of 2007... back when containers were staged along the driveway. Before there was a patio, before there were stock tanks in this very spot. Oh how times have changed.

It's also interesting (to me at least) to note that the poor guy spent some serious time frozen during the cold of December 2009, when his container was moved into the garage (no shade pavilion greenhouse yet either). However he recovered just fine, the benefits of being kept dry. There are photos of those limbs frozen solid in this post

My god look at how clean the patio and wall were back in 2009...

Back in 2014 he spent some time in the tall green container to the left of the stock tank pond, although then he was in a black nursery pot that could be lifted out in the fall.

Another 2014 shot. Note the green container on the right of the stock tank, that's where he's living now.

For the last few years this corner of the upper back garden has been Mr. Big's home. The same black nursery pot slipped right into that metal cache pot. And no, it's not your imagination. Mr. Big (so named because he really was HUGE when I brought him home) has been steadily shrinking.

Now that his roots have been freed from the confines of a small (5 or 7 gallon) pot... hopefully he'll be very happy.

He is a beautiful plant...

Sadly variegated Agave americana are not reliably hard here in Portland, although Mr. Big has never been inside the house. He seems to do okay outdoors as long as he stays dry, so I'll be building a nice PVC cover for him come winter.

Longtime readers may have also noticed the wire wall around the back of the stock tank is gone. I decided I was done fighting the raccoons. The canna in the tall planter is (I think?) designed to be raccoon proof, "ish" I mean they can't knock it off it's cement block pillar, like they did with the old pond plants. It's got a heavy base and is sunk into the tube. That's not to say I think the little masked asshats can't still destroy things.

I know the water hyacinth are begging to be cut up with their knife-like paws. I'm not attached, they were just the only floaters available when I went shopping. Since then I've added bits of my Lysimachia nummularia as it needs to be pulled (it's a very abundant creeper). It seems to be quite happy floating and I like to have a place to toss it besides the yard waste bin.

I'm enjoying the tank pond without the reinforcements around it. So far no raccons have gone for a swim, but they usually hold off until late in the season, so we shall see.

On to the plant surprises! Over where the Lysimachia nummularia is planted in the ground, I was stunned to find the rhizomatous begonias are coming back...again!

Crazy! For some of these plants this means they've made it thru two winters. 

I never would have thought it possible.

Then again—even though there was snow and cold and ice—it didn't dip below the mid-20's in my garden so I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised?

The final surprise of this post are these adorable leaves. A desert fern, Bommeria hispida. One of my Agave ovatiolia in the front garden had a yellowing leaf low, against the ground, that I wanted to remove, it required armored clothing and laying down in the gravel.

I was successful and while there discovered this fern had been happily existing between the agave and a Euphorbia rigida—I thought it had perished. Now that I know I'll be keeping an eye on it—but trying resist the temptation to move it, since it's happy there.

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Oh Lori, what a horrible thing to happen especially at this time of year. I hope you are a quick mender. It has been crazy weather everywhere. We had frost and snow two weeks ago and are just finishing off a week of high 80's. Spring bloom season has been gorgeous but short lived. Guess there's a reason most agaves grow where there are few trees to litter on them.

    1. I generally think of myself as a quick mender, but I understand as we age that can change...

  2. I hope that your ankle break recovers quickly.

    Will you have to have to your ankle in a stookie afterwards? (stookie is a Scottish word for plaster).

    Our weather has improved over the last week or so. It has finally stopped raining and warmed up a bit as well, hooray!

    1. I still haven't been in to see the surgeon so unfortunately I don't know what my recovery will look like. Are you all recovered from COVID?

    2. Hi Loree,

      My wife and children are all fully recovered from COVID. I sometimes get muscular aches and pains and feel tired, but this is happening less and less often now.

      Thanks for asking :)

  3. I'm sorry to hear that the snap meant a real break, Loree. I hope you get a clearer picture on treatment next week. The fir tree mess looks like a nightmare and reminds me that I'm not sorry that I don't have to deal with the mimosa mess any longer, although your mess looks worse and more widespread than mine was. I love the "desert fern" but was disappointed to find it isn't likely to be happy outside zone 9b. If I find it, though, I may try it anyway.

    1. The wind was so crazy this time that the fir tree litter actually made it over the house and into the front garden!

  4. AnonymousJune 04, 2021

    Loree - so sorry to hear that you broke your ankle. I hope you mend quickly. When we lived in the Portland area our house had fir trees all around it and they were always dropping something. They are very beautiful trees, but too messy for my likes. Get well soon!

    1. So messy! Thank you for the healing wishes.

  5. Loree that is why it was so important to check out your ankle ! I'm so sorry it truly was broken .. I know it will be a pain literally , and mentally for you.
    The mess in the garden ? I share that as well with maple "keys" and fall out from two maples flowering heavily this Spring .. my beautiful stone pathways look a mess. I am usually obsessive about cleaning things .. but this year I have really had to slow down .. I hate that but it is what it is.
    That agave ! wow ! .. they are long lived even through desperate weather .. that surprises me. I love the BIG blue one .. and those tiny "hands" of the fern peeking out .. how sweet is that.
    Hope they get you sorted with your ankle soon .. take care !

    1. Yes I am glad I finally went in, thanks to all of you urging me too.

  6. AnonymousJune 04, 2021

    So very glad you had the ankle checked out. I can also empathize with your "mess". I have deciduous oaks and pecans and between shedding their leaves at different times and the squirrels chewing green pecans then dropping the pieces which stain everything, I seem to have a persistant mess. I love your little desert fern. Actually, all of your plants look great.

    1. Isn't that fern fabulous!? I would love to move it somewhere that it's more easily seen, but for now it's good to know it's happy.

  7. Pray for fast healing for you. I thought my mimosa was the worse mess in my yard but this year my Deodor had an abundance of huge cones that shattered when they fell. Everyday for months I have to rake them up. My hosta's and ferns don't like them. I think your yard is beautiful tree droppings it just added some texture to your yard. :)

    1. Thank you for the healing wishes, and commiserating on the mess!

  8. AnonymousJune 05, 2021

    So sorry to hear about your ankle. It will heal in time. Be patient and resist the temptation to do too much. Take care.
    Jim N.Tabor

  9. Best wishes for good healing.

    What better distraction than beautiful plants? The Bommeria hispida is delicate and wonderful, ditto wonderful on your ovatifolia, and congrats on the Begonias surviving!

  10. Oh, dear, not good, my friend. So sorry about your ankle, such rotten luck. Surgery sounds frightful, but one must do what is required... the gardening show must go on!
    Wishing you a complete and speedy recover, Loree.

  11. My grandmother also used to go on Memorial Day to put flowers on the graves of loved ones. When I still lived in Seattle, I should have gone on Memorial Day to do the same for her grave....but I think of her and have missed her every day since she died in 1980. Anyway, I am so sorry about your ankle and hope you can find a way to enjoy the garden thoroughly even if sitting down.

  12. Our honeylocust is dropping all kinds of little "balls" every day. We sweep them, we blow them and still they come. As soon as they're done dropping we will need to have someone clean our gutters before it rains. I think it is related to our drought conditions as I don't really remember it happening before. Strange gifts from our gardens!


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