Reclaimed bamboo hill replanted

Three weeks ago, we had a massive clump of timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) removed in the front yard. This post ended with the bamboo gone, both the culms above ground and the woody mass below.

The fence boards in the inset area were damaged from the accumulation of bamboo leaves and the stump grinder the tree service used to remove the woody base. Logically, the first thing I did was pop off the old fence boards, creating an opening that hadn’t existed since 2008.

Since I had easy access to the remaining bamboo inside the fence (Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’, a different species), I removed most of the accumulated leaf litter and other debris that had collected over the years. I also gave the Bambusa chungii a good trim, cutting out dead and deformed culms. Before long, I had a sizable pile in the street—just in time for the first yard waste pickup of the season (from mid-fall to late winter, the City of Davis picks up green waste deposited in the curb every two weeks).

I liked the newly gained openness afforded by the absence of the fence boards so much that I initially voted to leave the area open, just like this:

But my wife convinced me that we did need a visual transition from the public area outside the fence to our private space inside. She suggested horizontal pickets with larger gaps between them. I liked her design so she and her mother built it with minimal help from me. The result is beautiful:

The next step was to bring in soil and more rocks to add to the three pumice boulders I’d moved from inside the fence (they were supposed to keep the bamboo away from other plants):

Here are 1 cubic yard of screened topsoil and 1 cubic yard of very coarse sand as well as 700 pounds of rocks (hidden in the pile of sand):

I’d asked the delivery driver to deposit everything in the area where it was supposed to go, but he must have misunderstood me because he dumped it all in the street. After a few hours of hauling, I’d moved the soil, sand, and rocks into the right place.

The first plant I put in the ground was an Aloe excelsa that had rotted two years ago and convalesced in the backyard. It’s the anchor plant for the entire area and had to be in place before anything else could happen.

After my wife had helped me place the rocks, I proceeded to plant the area:

I did start with a list of plants I wanted to use, but I found myself pulling out quite a few others from my various holding areas—finally my plant collecting hoarding paid off!

Boophane disticha, one of several South African bulbs I planted

I also happened to have one golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii) and three blue barrels (Ferocactus glaucescens) that needed a home...

....and here they are

From a design perspective, a cluster of three would be more effective, but heck, I had four

I also added some shrubby plants for texture and contrast, including (top to bottom) Abutilon palmeri, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Super Blue’, and Euphorbia misera (the latter a San Diego County native)

The bulk of the new plants are agaves and related succulents

Agave nuusaviorum (top), Mangave ‘Foxy Lady’ (left), Agave stricta ‘Nana (right and bottom)

Agave nuusaviorum, a close relative of Agave potatorum. I got it as a small seedling from agave master Greg Starr in Tucson, AZ.

I realize that the hill is probably overplanted and that I will need to move plants as they become bigger. But that’s been my gardening style for years so no surprise there.

Mangave ‘Foxy Lady’ and Agave stricta ‘Nana’

The area still needs some finishing touches—I need to install drip lines and emitters and add top dressing—but the plants are in and can start getting established. With nothing but warm and dry weather in the forecast, the conditions look good for the next two weeks.


List of plants used in this project:

Abutilon palmeriShrub
Agave nuusaviorumSucculent
Agave parrasana × parryi var. truncataSucculent
Agave parvifloraSucculent
Agave pintillaSucculent
Agave potatorum 'Spawn' × isthmensisSucculent
Agave sebastianaSucculent
Agave shawiiSucculent
Agave shawii × isthmensisSucculent
Agave shawii × potatorumSucculent
Agave stricta 'Nana' (2×)Succulent
Agave zebraSucculent
Aloe excelsaSucculent
Aloe fievietti (2×)Succulent
Boophane distichaBulb
Chrysactinia mexicana (4×)Perennial
Coryphantha macromerisCactus
Cyrtanthus obliquusBulb
Dalea gregii (2×)Perennial
Echinocactus grusoniiCactus
Euphorbia miseraShrub
Euphorbia myrsinitesPerennial
Ferocactus glaucescens (3×)Cactus
Ferraria crispaBulb
Haemanthus coccineusBulb
Hakea flabellifoliaShrub
Lavandula angustifolia 'Super Blue'Perennial
Lavandula × intermedia 'Phenomenal'Perennial
Leucophyllum zygophyllumShrub
Mangave 'Foxy Lady'Succulent
Mangave 'Purple People Eater'Succulent
Mangave 'Bloodspot' × Agave oteroiSucculent
Nerine sarniensisBulb
Ornithogalum fimbrimarginatumBulb
Yucca harrimaniae/nana (3×)Succulent

© Gerhard Bock, 2022. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. Excellent! Kudos to Heather and mom for fence building and I love that you wasted no time filling it up with choice plants. Isn't it fun to shop your own stash? I look forward to seeing it in person, someday...

    1. LOL, even after shopping my own stash, I have wayyyyyy too many plants. I need more areas to replant!

      Come visit! It's been so long since your last trip. Damn Covid!

  2. Great solution on the fence! I can't imagine moving 700 pounds of rock plus a mountain of sand (but then I may have moved that much rock in stages over the years). Having the rock delivered, something my husband I haven't done, was very smart, even if you did have to move it from the street. I knew you'd been collecting plants but that list is impressive and I look forward to seeing it settle into place.

    1. The rocks weren't super large so moving them was OK. I survived with just a bit of back pain.

  3. What a planting changeup, from a large clump of bamboo to now dozens of succulents. That sums up the evolution in your tastes right there. And so many choice plants -- love the blue barrels!

    1. All three blue barrels had been squeezed into a rectangular container--and deprived of real sunlight--for far too long. Once they're established in the ground, they should thrive.

  4. Goodness, the misunderstanding with the delivery driver ended up costing you quite a bit of heavy lifting...
    The end result of the renovated space, the new fence and all the plants (omg, so many plants!!!) look fantastic. I wish I could wave a magic wand and jump ahead 5 years, just for a moment, to see it in mature state.
    Agave nuusaviorum is gorgeous. I hope it didn't take a bite out of you when you handled it.

    1. LOL, don't jump ahead five years quite yet--by then, I'll have to start moving plants :-)

      I wore heavy-duty gauntlet gloves while handling the Agave nuusaviorum.

  5. Looks fantastic. Compliments to your wife and mother-in-law for their woodworking skills. They were spot on with the effect of running the planks horizontally. Something quite satisfying when a garden revamp occurs and how great that you had so many plants to fill the space. Look forward to seeing how it settles in.

    1. Thank you, Elaine. I love change in the garden and I look forward to seeing how this space will evolve.


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