From high above our Southwest patio garden, you can get a good perspective of our latest agave to flower. This cross of Agave salmiana and Agave asperrima (scabra) is our largest agave to ever flower (7' tall x 12' wide). We're expecting the spike to reach at least 25' before it begins to open in late June or early July.
Here is a ground level photo from 2 weeks ago, when the flower bud first emerged.
Here, the flower spike is 10 days old and nearing 12' tall. The flowering of large agaves evokes both excitement and sadness....excitement that it will flower and hopefully set seed, but sadness that the parent plant will die soon after flowering. Although it would take 100 years to reach flowering size in the wild, our plant is only 16 years old, growing faster because of our higher rainfall. While they last, we are pleased to offer seed-grown plants from its sister that flowered a couple of years earlier.
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For those who love century plants, here are few that you'll find in the 2015 catalog that is now only 8 days from going live. The first is our hybrid of Agave striata x Agave bracteosa that we named Agave 'Straight and Narrow'. It's a small agave, with virtually no offsets. We've had this in the ground through single digits F with no problem.
Agave titanota 'Solar Eclipse' has been circulating among collectors for several years without a valid name, so we added one and finally have enough to include it in the catalog...not hardy outdoors, except in the mildest climates.
Agave potatorum 'Eye Scream' is another century plant that has circulated in the collector market without a valid name. This is truly a stunning century plant, we think you'll enjoy, although it's also only hardy outdoors in frost free climates. Read more [...]
The Agaves are looking great in the garden today as we start our Fall Open Nursery and Garden. Here are two of my favorites as they look today...the spineless Agave bracteosa (top) that looks like a stiff green squid, and the magnificent Agave ovatifolia. (botttom) Both of these were brought into the US from Mexico by the late plant explorer, Lynn Lowrey of Texas. You'll see them both on display when you visit during the next two weekends. Be sure to say hello while you're here. Read more [...]
Several of the South African geophytes (plants with swollen underground storage organs) are looking great today in the gardens here at Juniper Level. The top photo is the amazing Oxalis bowiei, which just emerged from summer dormancy. This 10" gem is topped, almost as it emerges with stalks of large 1" bright pink flowers. I can't imagine a late summer/fall garden without these. It's completely winter hardy here, but not much further north, where it performs great in mixed containers that need a late summer kick. At the bottom is Eucomis 'Mini Tuft Red', which looks great now...a fantastic pineapple lily hybrid using 2 high elevation, South African mountain species....also only 10" tall. Both plants make great rock garden or container specimens. Read more [...]
Here’s a teaser for the morning. We’ve assembled a rather fun collection of variegated agaves (century plants), and here is a one-of-a-kind mutation we found on Agave ovatifolia, where the chimeral pattern is stable on one side of the plant and unstable on the other side. The next chance to see this in person is when we host the Southeast Palm Society Meeting on August 9. Visitors and guests are welcome to attend.
I took this photo of our oldest plant of Agave albopilosa yesterday. We sold out of our first crop quickly this spring, but our next batch is almost ready. It’s one of the coolest century plants we grow…very slow growing, and on the small side even when mature, but what a conversation piece!
The fourth of our eight century plants with flower spikes is now open. This is a 10-year old specimen of Agave ocahui…one of the agaves with unbranched flower spikes. We’re enjoying the amazing flowers, while also trying to make crosses with other species to create interesting new hybrids…wish us luck! Since Agave ocahui doesn’t offset, the plant will die after flowering, so we’ll need to plant a replacement.
While I was gone, one more agave produced a flower spike, bringing our total to 8 flowering century plants, equaling our 2013 total. Here is Agave lophantha that had the decency to wait until I got home to open. It looks like we’ve probably got another week or two before it starts to open and the agave breeding begins.
It just doesn’t get any cuter than the tiny rock garden scilla-relative, Ledebouria ‘Dawie Human’. Topping out at 1-2″ tall, be sure to plant it in a special spot, so it doesn’t get overlooked….like a fairy or gnome garden. If you’re in the far north, enjoy it as a container plant. Here it is after our cold winter, flowering beautifully in our rock garden.
Greetings from Juniper Level, NC where the weather has simply been wonderful for gardening this spring. Overall, most of the country has enjoyed a good gardening spring, except for the terrible drought still persisting in southeast Texas. Florida had been suffering the same fate as Texas until the recent multi-day deluge that quickly brought most of the state out of a rainfall deficit. Even most of the Midwest has been calm this spring, leaving the poor caravans of storm chasers from the Vortex2 expedition exasperated...sorry folks...you can stay there permanently if it'll keep the tornados away.
Our heart goes out to the staff of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in California, which suffered extensive damage to both structures and the garden in the recent wind-driven Jesusita Fire. The gardens, which focus on California natives, are outstanding if ever have the chance to visit. We hope they can get reopened soon. You can read more about their damage in this news release.
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