Nice agave, right? It’s one of the larger specimens at the Rancho and it’s much loved. It was one of two I purchased from a local propagator, I’d say five years ago; both were small and in pots. The vendor warned me that I should allow for space when planting them since they would grow to be super-large … I thought sure, right, great … but did as he instructed. Boy, am I glad I did! Although the other died eventually, this guy has grown and grown, completely filling the corner of our lot at 14th Street and Isabella Streets. Gorgeously dark green, each of the spike-tipped agave spears is a perfect water-directing device. During the rains of the last few weeks I enjoyed watching rainwater course toward the agave’s core … and, when the rain stopped I noticed something else: The tip of a giant aparagus tip was sneakily peeking out at the top! Long time readers of this blog know that nothing provokes garden excitement in me more than a showy succulent stalk, and on an agave this size it’s sure to be one for the Rancho’s record books. But how big is it exactly? Let’s place something next to it for scale …
How about someone 5 foot, 10-inches tall? Paul, who is that exact height, graciously consented to stand next to our agave … it was his decision to bring a Vanna White-style zest to the proceedings. It’s been two weeks since that first photo; it’s easy to see that this agave must be over 10-feet tall, from base to stalk tip. But what height will it eventually reach? Your guess is as good as mine; I will be watching (and documenting) its progress.
I firmly believe that it was the rains of December and earlier this month that triggered this stalk’s appearance. But that’s not all that was triggered. Here are some other moisture-activated garden stand outs:
This plant is one of my absolute favorites. Its foliage looks like that of an ordinary shrub; touch the leaves, though, and you’ll experience the cool feel of a juicy-leaved succulent. I had no idea this plant would flower, and I had no idea it would flower so beautifully. The tight-lipped red-orange blossoms are a favorite of visiting hummingbirds and who can blame them? That’s a very appetizing shade of persimmon red.
An all-time fave, this agave ferox has been providing me with much garden pleasure for years now … I fall in love with it each time it blooms. I guess I’m just partial to a fiery succulent torch song.
Relatively new to our garden, this chubby little cactus does not play: It’s got long, curved rigid spines surrounded by sticky prickles. It was after the rains that what appeared to be dead blossoms became something else entirely. Used to the Rancho’s other cacti, with fruit in colors that range from deep purple to bright red, I happily welcome little yellow pineapple cactus fruit to my garden party!
Given to me by another local propagator, this kalanchoe sends out long runners which end in little leafy clones of their base plant. I’m delighted by the idea that this plant will one day be overflowing its pot, crazy with little kalanchoe gifts I can bestow on visitors. When he gave me this plant he mentioned that it would flower, I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Check out the sweet little blooms at the top of the hanger’s curve.
Getting to know local propagators is a good thing to do, whether they give you free plants or not. The local guys I know are always willing to share their time and knowledge, and when I’m looking to buy always give me great deals. It’s a humbling experience for me, however, since I can never remember the names of most plants, especially the latin ones!