So long, Agave 'Crazy Horse'

With virtually all prime spots in our garden occupied, I often need to make decisions that aren't easy. Sometimes this means removing a plant that is perfectly fine, for the simple reason that I just don't love it anymore. I used to feel bad about doing it, but gardening is about evolving, moving on, letting go.

Whenever I can, I find a new home for a plant I take out, but that's not always possible, especially when the pant is too big. Agave 'Crazy Horse' in the photo below is a prime example:

Agave 'Crazy Horse'

Agave 'Crazy Horse' is a hybrid between Agave cupreata and Agave asperrima. It's a nice-looking plant that definitely attracts attention. At a tad over 4 ft. in height and 5 ft. in width and well armed with prominent teeth along the leaf margins, ours was filling its spot quite nicely. 

So why did I want to get rid of it? I'm a restless gardener and constantly looking for ways to edit, meaning replacing plants that just don't do it for me anymore. It's as basic as that. And since Monday was going to be the last curbside yard waste pickup until November, I decided that now was as good a time as any.

Step 1 was to remove the outer leaves, starting one layer about the bottom and leaving the lowest layer for last. Hedge shears worked perfectly. This is what was left after step 1:

Step 2 consisted of removing the core and root ball using my trusty Root Slayer shovel, the one gardening tool I could not live without, and then hauling the carcass to the curb:

Looking at the somewhat sad-looking green waste at the curb you wouldn't really know that this had been a regal-looking agave not long ago:

Not surprisingly, there's now a fairly large gap in the bed:

The logical question is what comes next. I'm trying to decide between two candidates: Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta' and Agave 'Desert Love'. Option 1, Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta', is a stunner. Here it is in a private garden in the Santa Barbara area I had the privilege of visiting a couple of years ago:

Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta' in front of a steely blue Agave franzosinii

I got an Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta' from San Marcos Growers a couple of years ago and it's currently in a metal container in the backyard:

It's not getting enough sun and water and isn't thriving the way I had expected it to. Transplanting it to a prime spot in front of the house seems like a good idea.

The second contender is Agave 'Desert Love', a hybrid found in a batch of Agave ovatifolia seedlings at Plant Delights. As per the Plant Delights website, "there had been some romantic hanky panky in the high desert mountains of Northern Mexico where these originated. The resulting offspring from the tryst appear to be hybrids of Agave ovatifolia with the lovely Agave parrasana and possibly Agave asperrima (scabra). The foliage of Agave 'Desert Love' ranges from wide to narrow with an assortment of recurved leaf tips, spine patterns, but almost consistently blue foliage."

I have two specimens of 'Desert Love', and the larger one is beautiful:

The smaller one is currently in a #7 plastic pot waiting for a permanent home.

I seem to change my mind several times a day, but right now I'm leaning towards Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta'. I'll keep you posted.

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  1. Not easy but had to be done. Love the name 'Crazy Horse' though, reminds me of the French review/cabaret...

    The Medio Picta is my favourite, it glows and it's a stunner!

  2. I just did this to 'Jaws' in the tiny front garden, so I share your mixed feelings. In 'Jaws' case, we're leaving the vacated space empty -- for the puppy and for clipping the hedges that were impossible to tend to. I handled step 1 exactly as you did but had to bring in Marty for step 2. The sap from the rootball caused a rash on his arms that lasted days! I also removed 'Ivory Curls' from the back garden which kept getting leaf tip burn and planted Aloe labworana. Now you have so many choices! That's a lovely grouping of plants with A. salmiana var. ferox, etc

    1. The teeth on 'Jaws' are far more lethal than on 'Crazy Horse'. That couldn't have been an easy removal.

      I did get some of the sap on my arms and it burned for a few hours, fortunately not for days.

      'Ivory Curls' is a tough one for me, too. Too much sun and it burns. And in the winter it gets black spots.

  3. Both your options are beautiful plants. I cringed a little to see 'Crazy Horse' in the gutter like that, though.

  4. You need a bigger garden to house all of your treasures so you don't need to make these drastic decisions.

    1. I know it! Our entire lot is only 8000 sq.ft. I'd love to have an acre or two...

  5. I was pondering taking out the big sunburned 'Blue Flame' at the low end of the front slope--a relief to see I'm not the only one thinking to take out an Agave before it finishes--to replace it with a different Agave!

    1. Take out the 'Blue Flame'. I find it to be quite susceptible to sunburn; I have had the same problem. There are so many agaves available to us now that we don't need to put up with plants that don't quite give us what we want.

  6. Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta'!!!! (that's my vote, not that you asked)

    1. I did ask, at least implicitly :-)

      Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Medio Picta'. It got the most votes, and it's my top choice, too.


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