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Aloe Unbound

December 12, 2010

Gnarl with chihuahua

The weather this weekend has been less wintry and more summer extension. While plenty cool at night and early morning, it’s been positively balmy during the day — perfect for gardening. So, Saturday morning we decided to move an aloe tree from the small container it had clearly outgrown, into one at least twice as deep and wide. I thought the transfer would be simple and I could do it myself, so I got the dolly out and tried to shimmy the potted tree onto it. No go; I couldn’t budge it. Enlisting Paul’s help, I held the dolly in place and he tried the pot shimmy. That didn’t work, either; the pot was too wide for the dolly’s ledge, the entire thing was too heavy, and it all fell backwards onto the ground. Drat! Deciding to dig the tree out of the pot, we took turns scooping out the soil with a spade … until we hit what seemed like very long, thick roots. Ditching our spades, we used our hands to dig around and under the roots — quickly, realizing they had not only grown to fill the bottom of the pot, they were encircling it as well. Hoping to damage them as little as possible, we took our time with the digging, and eventually we were able to extricate the tree. Pulling it free from the pot, we couldn’t contain our amazement at how extensive its root structure had become. I was sorry I had waited so long to transplant the tree, it must have been mightily constricted by its cramped quarters!  In the photo above, the root system drapes over our built-in planter while we prepare its new home for its arrival. Completely unmoved by the aloe’s emancipation, Frito tiptoes past, his physique echoing the roots’ contours …

Aloe at rest

It’s easier to see in this view how the aloe’s amazing root system attaches itself to the thick trunk. Studying them, I can’t help but be reminded of the paintings of Brice Marden, with their gnarled inter-connected tracery (click here for example). Similarly, I’m reminded of Alison Saar’s sculpture, ‘Conjure’, featured in this recent post (click here).

Spacious new digs

Location, location

The aloe’s new home was recently occupied by a sizable yucca that broke when its branches became too top-heavy. After removing the yucca, I’d wondered what I’d put in this huge concrete pot next … serendipitously, the aloe tree makes a perfect new resident. In the inset picture you can see the smaller pot, with the vacant larger pot in the background. More than twice as wide, and deep, as its former home, the aloe should enjoy having the additional room to roam in this pot. Should the aloe double in size, again, I’m thinking I’ll have to plant it directly into the ground. That is, after rounding up a crew of helpers. If the effort Paul and I expended in this transplant is any indication, we’ll surely need assistance at that point … this move has left me with a serious backache.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Donita Smith permalink
    December 12, 2010 11:19 pm

    Heh! Missed opportunity. When I saw that gnarl of roots my first thought was, ooh!, hang some fairy lights on it! (Yes, I can feel you cringe) Then I smacked myself back to sanity. It looks lovely in it’s new pot.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      December 12, 2010 11:51 pm

      Dang, how I missed the similarity of the root strands to the that tangle of Christmas lights fresh outta the garage is beyond me! Thanks for stopping by, Donita

  2. December 12, 2010 11:47 pm

    Jealous of your warm sun…and I love the aloe tree in its new container. Where ever did you find such simple good looking (and sizable) pots?

    • reubix1 permalink*
      December 12, 2010 11:55 pm

      Where all good things come from: craigslist. They were all salvaged from a hotel demolition in Long Beach, and the guy who sold them to us not only gave us a deal ($600 for all) but delivered them, too, for no extra charge … all the way from Hesperia, about an hour away!

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