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Newly Notable

March 24, 2015


“Oh, hello there”, my octopus agave seems to be saying from its spot between the pepper trees on 14th St. Quite self-effacing coming from a large succulent with a seeming writhing base, with a central stalk that easily extends to almost 20-feet. I had been monitoring my modest friend all last week, waiting for the day the buds that bristled on its stalk’s would open; my secret hope that it might happen on the first day of spring, 2015. Well, disregarding ceremony and my wishes completely, a full 5-inches of the agave’s lowest buds opened the day before that momentous seasonal occurrence . . .


Since then more and more of the buds have opened, exposing lovely yellow-green blooms — and bright yellow centers — to the sun. I’m both saddened and heartened while enjoying this bloom display: Although my agave will die once all the blooms have opened, each will be replaced by a bulbil, or miniature clone, of its parent. All I have to do is harvest some of the hundreds (thousands?!) of the bulbils left behind and plant them; or, allow them to fall from the dead stalk onto the ground whereupon they’ll plant themselves. Maybe this is the true reason for my octopus agave’s matter-of-fact presence lately, it knows it will live on. With or without my help.

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While playing tour guide at the Rancho recently, I was surprised to see something I might’ve missed. Can you spot the new addition?

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Yes, my cauldron usually overflows with strings-of-nickels … and yes, the lime green coinage cascades to the ground … what was different were the clusters of tiny 4-petaled blossoms twining through its cascading strands. A paler green than its circular foliage, the blooms are quite delicate and lovely, with a scent so subtle I’m not sure it existed. Unlike with the octopus agave, I seem to find only contrary information online concerning this plant and its ways. Still, I’m not concerned: If my string-of-nickels can look this happy and bloom too, who am I to worry?

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Looking for all the world like a minor hair metal band with a major skin condition, this cactus was a gift from my buddy Rob. I admit I was not overly enthusiastic accepting it until he mentioned that it would bloom spectacularly. Won over I couldn’t wait to get it home and into the ground. Well, it didn’t take long at all before bright red nubbins began to appear, then elongate . . . Now I’m just waiting for the blooms, spectacular or not. And, tell you the truth, even if the cactus never blooms I’ll be content. Me, and my gravel-bound zitty hair band.


I suppose some people might think it’s odd assigning personalities, names even, to the plants in one’s garden. But I don’t think it’s weird at all. The same way I’ve named my pets, and bestowed pet names to my friends, it’s all done with affection. I do find myself talking to the plants in my garden, too; watering being the best time to hold an admittedly one-sided convo. Thank god, we have no neighbors to speak of!

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Guida permalink
    March 24, 2015 2:45 am

    MAGNIFICENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. March 24, 2015 1:02 pm

    I agree with Guida… BRAVO!!! I was just at your house a couple of weeks ago enjoying your garden and I can’t believe how it’s evolved even since then. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final blooms of the gravel-bound zitty hair band plant, which I did not know bloomed. Personally, I love this plant… it draws me in to want to touch it to see how soft it is… but behold, there are thorns beneath the soft hairy surface.

    • March 24, 2015 1:55 pm

      Which was why I almost passed on the zitty hair band altogether, WF: THORNS! No matter how I try to dress to avoid them, no matter how much I try to maneuver around them, they always get me! Thanks for commenting and see you again soon 😉

  3. March 24, 2015 3:24 pm

    Zitty hair band reminds me so much of those yip-yip Martian muppets. Are you quite sure you haven’t heard them going “brrrrrrinnnnggg!” in the garden?

  4. March 24, 2015 6:50 pm

    ooohhhhh !!!! wow !

  5. March 24, 2015 11:48 pm

    Remarkable octopus agave! Love the String of Nickels…new to me! All the pix are wonderful…thanks for sharing!! Gives me ideas and new things to love…love the shelves/stairs the bowl of String of nichels is sitting on!! Clever!!

    • March 25, 2015 2:07 am

      Thanks much, Linda … Have a look around, there are ideas everywhere on Rancho Reubidoux! 😉

  6. Vickie Perez permalink
    March 25, 2015 4:35 am

    Absolutely fantastic!!!! I don’t know if I could pick a favorite. I wasn’t sure if the starts you gave me of the string of nickels were going to make but discovered a few blooms on it a couple of days ago. They were my smile maker of the day. Thanks again for them!

  7. March 25, 2015 5:28 am

    Green is my favorite color, so your photos of the string-of-nickels… honestly, that and the yellow-green agave blooms are just killing me [thud].

    • March 25, 2015 1:42 pm

      Hey, Luisa, I love green, too … especially green with lots of yellow in it. I loved taking these pics! ps: I got my wolf tee in the mail yesterday and I love it!

  8. March 25, 2015 3:50 pm

    that string of nickels is amazing. And I’m a little bummed to see your octopus agave flowering at a relatively small size — about the size of mine, gulp! But what a beautiful bloom spike it has. The Rancho looks ready for a tour again, Reuben…

    • March 25, 2015 9:15 pm

      Hi, Denise! I’ve seen several octopus agaves here in Riverside about the same size, with the same size stalks. Conditions here must provoke an early demise. I’ve been thinking of having a spring open garden soon; needless to say you’re be notified 😉

  9. March 26, 2015 10:41 pm

    Denise alerted me to the fabulousness of your Xerosicyos–it looks wonderful–so what ever care you providing, it must be correct.

    • March 26, 2015 11:03 pm

      Hey, hoov, after looking up Xerosicyos I can now tell the tale: I planted mine in a mixture of cactus mix, gravel and pearlite, inside that cast iron cauldron, and crossed my fingers. Care? I water it once a week currently. During the heavy rains we had I was nervous that it might retain too much water … but it seemed to flourish! I feel very fortunate having it look so terrific and everyone who visits loves it! Wait! I do talk to it sometimes, too …

  10. Dan Bailey permalink
    March 29, 2015 4:50 am

    Your garden is beautiful and not to change the subject, but have been looking for a vintage backyard trash incinerator remiscent of my youth for my garden. Can you give me any leads where I might find one?

    • March 29, 2015 5:23 am

      Hi, Dan, thanks for commenting! I came by my incinerators through Stephen Penn and his Art Garden. I’ve not seen any new ones since but it’s worth asking about. He’s moving location soon but you can call him at 909.705.9736. Tell them I sent you. By the way you can see the ones I scored at this post:

  11. April 1, 2015 2:17 am

    Oh how I wish I could take the tour of your garden, but since I can’t, your photos give me an idea of what I would see. I love the hanging nickel plant….. that is a new one for me.
    Again, thanks for posting the beautiful pictures of your amazing plants.

    • April 1, 2015 3:53 am

      Val, I wish you could visit as well! I’d love to meet you … thanks for commenting, new post (and view) tomorrow. 😉


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