Friday, August 17, 2018

Mangave musical chairs

If there's one constant in my garden, it's that nothing stays the same forever—or even for very long.

There's the natural circle of life: Plants, even the toughest and most reliable ones, die at some point and need to be replaced.

And then there's the Gerhard circle of life that revolves almost entirely around my ever-changing plant crushes and preferences. Variety is the spice of life, isn't that way they say?

Here's my latest tweak:

The Agave ocahui in the photo above never quite lived up to my expectations. It looked a bit wonky and in general didn't impress. Time for it to go.
No, it didn't go to the Big Compost Pile in the Sky, just into a nursery pot.

I replaced the Agave ocahui with a ×Mangave 'Iron Man' from Walters Gardens. It had previously been planted near fence in a spot that's in imminent danger of being overrun by a hairy canary clover (Dorycnium hirsutum) from the left and a variegated plectranthus (Plectranthus neochilus 'Mike's Fuzzy Wuzzy') from the right.

Granted, at its current size ×Mangave 'Iron Man' (a hybrid between Agave pablocarrilloi, Agave montana, and Manfreda maculosa created by mangave wizard Hans Hansen) doesn't look like much. But check out this mature specimen:

×Mangave 'Iron Man'. Photo © Walters Gardens, Inc.

Here's 'Iron Man' in its new home:

The spot were 'Iron Man' had been is now filled by a San Angelo yucca (Yucca reverchonii). Endemic to the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas, it's thought by some to be an ancient hybrid of Yucca thompsoniana and Yucca rupicola. Apparently, it's one of the hardiest yuccas, not that it matters much in my garden. Yucca reverchonii will eventually grow to 2-3 ft and rise above the hairy canary clover and plectranthus. Plus, it needs virtually no supplemental water once established.

I've planted out many of the mangaves I received in my mangave mystery box in the spring. I'll have a more detailed update later in the month, but for now, here's one of my favorites: ×Mangave 'Blazing Saddles', a hybrid between Agave macroacantha, Agave nizandensis, and Manfreda maculosa. In strong light, the coloration is spectacular, even in my youngster:

The best source for all the recent mangave introductions by Walters Gardens is still Plant Delights Nursery. They carry a larger selection than any other nursery I know of.

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  1. I'm hoping the UC Davis sale will provide me with at least a couple more Mangaves. I'. going to have to stock up on luggo for the rainy season--if we have one.Plectranthus 'Mike's Fuzzy Wuzzy' ??? Where do they come up with these asinine names ?

    1. 'Mike's Fuzzy Wuzzy', that name really cracks me up. I think the person picking it was pretty fuzzy wuzzy themselves at the time. Or maybe this particular plectranthus has special properties I'm not aware of!

  2. I love the idea of a Gerhard circle of life.

    It's great to see mangaves finally getting attantion, I'm amazed it has taken so long. Can't wait to see the post on the other mangaves. Love the Walters Gardens mangaves. He is definitely the person producing the must have mangaves. Blazing Saddles is right up there on my wants list, along with Purple People Eater (although that one as much for the name).

    1. I hope somebody in the UK will start importing these new Walters Gardens mangaves!

  3. I totally get the gardener's cycle of life idea. Our garden is often subject to my whims/experimentation. Hopefully the garden is gradually headed in the right direction - which I tend to think of as looks good with a minimum of water and/or effort while still attracting wildlife.

    1. I experiment a lot, but it definitely is with the water situation in mind. And luckily there's no shortage of pollinators in our garden. I love hearing the buzzing of bees!

  4. You have your Mangaves in full sun? Still have not planted mine in the ground yet.