Sunday, September 28, 2014

I didn’t think it would get this big

I didn’t think it would get this big.

How often do we say that?

I certainly say it frequently enough that by now people might be wondering how somebody who pretends to be reasonably smart can be so dumb.

Case in point: Last October I bought a small agave-leaf sea holly (Eryngium agavifolium) at the UC Davis Arboretum plant sale. I always read the label so I must have known that the rosette can get to 2 ft. across. That didn’t seem like it would be a problem in the spot where I’d planted it. However, what failed to register in my brain was the fact that this plant forms a clump of rosettes up to 2 ft. across. The word clump is key here.

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As you can see in the next photo:

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In less than a year, the cute-looking 4-inch plant became an entangled mass of strappy leaves that smothered everything in its path, including an Agave ‘Burnt Burgundy’, an Agave montana and several Echeveria secunda. The situation was clearly out of hand. I knew something had to be done, and I was only waiting for the weather to cool down a bit so the buried plants wouldn’t go into complete shock upon uncovering.

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The time seemed right this morning. We had our first rain of the season on Thursday morning, and the weather had been noticeably cooler than last week. Today it’s been overcast most of the day, with highs in the mid 70s, which made for perfect gardening weather.

Here’s what the spot looks like after the Eryngium agavifolium had come out:

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And here’s a wider view:

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I didn’t bother to count the individual rosettes Eryngium agavifolium had formed, but the clump looks impressive lying in the gutter, waiting for yard waste pickup tomorrow morning.

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My current gardening philosophy won’t change based on this experience. I will still continue to overplant with the understanding that I will need to edit and thin as time goes by. However, I will make sure I will read the small print—understanding that a clump of rosettes gets significantly bigger than one rosette.

18 comments:

  1. I think you made a very wise move there.

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    1. I was amazed by how much more proportionate everything looked afterwards.

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  2. The same thing happened to me with the very first Eryngium agavifoliums I planted years ago. They got completely out of control and I dug them, careful to divide out a couple of plants to start over with because back then they were hard to find. Since then (and with the many more I've planted) that has never been a problem. The rosettes have stayed solitary or manageably small. I wonder why?

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    1. I wonder, too. I had no idea it would clump so readily and so quickly. Maybe there are different clones going around?

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Candy! Sometimes the best moves are subtractions, not additions.

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  4. Much much better without the Erygium. It's a great plant as lone rosette but several together does look untidy. Good decision!

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    1. I still love the leaves but an entire clump is just too much.

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  5. Your garden looks good. Can't trust some of these nursery labels.

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  6. Same habit of growth here with Eryngium pandanifolium. I've thinned it but not yet removed it entirely, even tho it's self-sown a bit. It spills more onto hardscape than plants, which is probably why I haven't hoiked it out yet.

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    1. If mine had spilled out onto hardscape, I probably would have left it a little longer. But I was afraid the two agaves it had started to engulf were suffering, and I like them more than the eryngium.

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  7. I've had two clumps of this in my gravel garden, for two years now, and so far they haven't gotten quite that big. I don't water them, so maybe that's why. This is one Eryngium whose flowers I don't really like much.

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    1. I watered mine once a week but I think it got some overspray from our neighbor's sprinkers. Maybe that's why it grew so fast.

      I agree with you 100% on the flowers. If only they were metallic blue like Eryngium planum or alpinum...

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  8. Replies
    1. Thanks. I'm getting better at editing--or becoming more ruthless.

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  9. Wow, I didn´t know it could grow that much! mine is so small... and it´s been planted now for a couple of years.

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    1. I was very surprised by how quickly it grew--and how large. I didn't expect that.

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