Front yard in early November 2013

It’s been a while since I documented the front yard as a whole. I think the last time was in July after we’d returned from our trip to Maui. Many of the perennials are still blooming; no surprise, I suppose, considering how nice our weather has been all along. If only we got some rain, things would be well nigh perfect in the weather department.

Let’s start in the driveway looking towards the house. The first thing you see is the ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo (Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’). I spent hours trimming it last weekend, and it’s looking good again. Bamboos don’t need much maintenance, but a little bit of attention now and then is an investment that pays off big esthetically.


Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’

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Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’

It’s been a while since I posted photos of this corner of our property, so here are some more:


Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’


Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’, with Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ on the left

The pots you see in the next photo were covered with bamboo leaves—lots of them! I bet these succulents can breathe more easily now!


L to R: Beaucarnea stricta, Agave americana ‘Mediopicta Aurea’, Aloe reitzii, Puya coerulea

Turning your head 90 degrees, you’ll see this:


Lots good stuff here!

From the front door you have this view:


Looking from the front door towards the street


Looking from the front door towards the street

I’m still so happy how well this succulent mound has turned out. The Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ is a good 5 ft. tall now. Supposedly it blooms at a young age (for an agave) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a flower spike next year. After blooming it will die, and even though there are plenty of offsets at the base, I will take out the whole clump and replace it with something else—just to mix things up a bit. But for now I’m enjoying its sculptural beauty.


Front: Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’, Yucca recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville’
Back: Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’


Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’

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LEFT: Looking towards the front door
RIGHT: Looking from the front door towards the porch

The Mangave ‘Bloodspot’ you see in the next two photos is another succulent I can’t get enough of. While not terribly rare, it’s still hard to find in nurseries. A lot of people ask me about this hybrid between a Manfreda maculosa and an Agave macroacantha, but I don’t know of a local nursery that carries it.


BACK: Yucca rostrata (2x)
FRONT: Mangave ‘Bloodspot’


Mangave ‘Bloodspot’

Here are some more photos of this area as seen from the lawn:


Bamboos and succulent bed near the front door


Closer view


Closer still

Moving over towards the front porch, you’ll see one of my favorite bamboos, Asian lemon (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’). I looks great next to the ever-larger sago palm (Cycas revoluta).

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Corner of the front porch with sago palm (Cycas revoluta) and Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’)

I also like this combination of Agave ‘Blue Flame’ and Agave ‘Cornelius’. Beautiful contrast in color and texture.


Agave ‘Blue Flame’ and Agave ‘Cornelius’


Agave ‘Blue Flame’ and Agave ‘Cornelius’ and assorted cacti

More agaves live on the front porch. They don’t get much direct sunlight here but they seem quite happy with their lot in life.


Agaves on the front porch (Agave mitis, Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’, Agave bovicornuta, Agave ‘Blue Flame’)

Looking from the front porch towards the street:


Assorted smaller succulents and oddities


View of front porch

My collection of barrel cacti, supplemented by a few potted agaves:


Assorted cacti (and three potted agaves)

And finally the oft-forgotten and somewhat neglected “tropical corner” off the front porch:


Tropical foliage in the corner next to the front porch


Next let’s walk across the driveway to the succulent bed I just redid:


Newly restored succulent bed along the driveway


It’s also home to one of the two ‘Desert Museum’ palo verdes I planted


Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’


Euphorbia resinifera (the bottom portion of the stems turned brown because the clump was covered with several inches of leaves from the now defunct cherry plum tree)


Now let’s take a look at what’s going on outside the front yard fence.

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LEFT: Lavender and Agave parrasana ‘Meat Claw’, still a juvenile
RIGHT: Bambusa oldhamii and Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’


Bambusa oldhamii


Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ and Echium wildpretii


Echium wildpretii up close; this is one of two that will bloom next spring


Here is the other one


Assorted perennials outside the front yard fence


Unidentified autumn sage cultivar (Salvia greggii) against Elliott’s love grass (Eragrostis elliottii)


Another Echium wildpretii; this one won’t bloom until the spring of 2015


Small Agave parryi var. huachucensis, planted at the base of our remaining Bradford pear. Behind it are an Aloe striatula (left) and an Aloe arborescens ‘Variegata’.


Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus), coming back from the base


View of front yard


Second ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde


Pots on top of the fence, still standing after two days of horrendous winds


Mexican sage (Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’) still looking beautiful


Posts like this one are a good visual record of the evolution of our garden. Occasionally I do find myself going back a few years to see what the garden looked like then. It’s easy to forget how much things change—often for the better, but not always. When you’re happy with how things are, enjoy the fruit of your hard work. And when you find something you don’t like, do something about it. At least that’s my new resolve.

Next up for me: Renovate that forlorn tropical corner off the front porch.


  1. Nice overview! Be honest: how many times a week do you look at the lawn area and think "I could plant a lot of Agaves in this space"? :)

    Bamboos are looking great -- are any of them overperforming? (or underperforming) Thought of a different way, do you think you'll be removing any others?

    1. Alan, you had to open that can of worms, didn't you? LOL. Yes, I do think about all the things that could be done with the front lawn. And it will be taken out eventually. Right now, the kids still use it. But in a few years, who knows?

      As for the bamboos, no plans to remove anything else. I just have to keep on top of them, i.e. trimming, legging up, removing old culms. I didn't fertilize them at all this year AND cut back on the watering, and I saw NO difference in vigor.

  2. A most enjoyable tour of your garden Gerhard, it's looking so good! Following your blog for a few years now we have seen it evolve and it just gets better. We both wholeheartedly agree with your resolve, it's the best attitude and dictum to have to enjoy gardening.

    1. Thank you, guys. I really appreciate your kind words. Your garden has been a great inspiration, as has your creativity and your work ethic.

  3. A fabulous overview! It's very helpful to see this kind of post ever so often so we can remind ourselves of the big picture in these gardens we visit so often but have yet to actually step foot in. The plant that took my breath away was your Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ I didn't realize you had one so large, it is amazing! When you come up to Portland next year for the Fling (you are coming right?) you'll have to buy a few 'Bloodspot' and take them home to resell! (Oddly I don't yet have one)

    1. Our Agave desmettiana just keeps on growing. It's completely crowed out an Agave filifera var. schidigera plant at its base--originally they were several feet apart.

      You need a 'Bloodspot'. It would look great in one of your colorful containers.

  4. Simply lovely. Thanks for sharing!

  5. That's looking great....I'm so jealous of your bamboos

    1. If there's one group of plants that has surpassed our expectations, it has been those bamboos!

  6. That looks great. I love all the different clusters of pots, your succulents look almost pristine. That agave mound is a thing of beauty as is the manfreda bloodspot.
    I go back and forth with Agave americana ‘Mediopicta Aurea’ between thinking is is better than the white version and then not liking it at all.
    The bamboo look great as well.

    1. Believe me, my succulents don't always look this clean. Last weekend I got out the leaf blower to do some leaf removal, and the succulents benefited too.

      I know exactly what you mean about the A. americana 'Mediopicta aurea'. I like it, but I don't love it like the 'Mediopicta alba'. In fact, I'm considering moving my 'Mediopicta alba' from the backyard to this spot--and giving away my Mediopicta aurea'.

  7. Wow! these look great Gerhardt. Have you ever counted how many pots you have? Are there any other Agaves that you do not have? Looks like you may have most of them. Envy me .

    I have my Bamboos in pots and they are not looking too good.

    1. Laura, there are many agaves I don't have yet. And new cultivars are coming out all the time.

      I'm about ready to give up on bamboos in pots. Most of them just don't thrive like they do in the ground, especially since I'm trying to reduce our water usage.

  8. Your garden is looking better and better. I love the path lined with Agaves. I am also one surprised at how well they can do in quite a bit of shade. Perhaps it is our dry summer heat that allows this.

    1. I agree. If we didn't have so much heat in the summer, most of my agaves probably wouldn't do well in the shade. As it is, though, many of them do better with at least some sun protection. After all, we want our plants to look their best, not merely survive :-).

  9. Wow succulent buddy your garden is just getting better and better! Really stunning and love the pots on the fence. The different agaves you have is awesome and your bloodspot is really beautiful.


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