Showing posts from 2023

Surprise driveway bed makeover

On Saturday morning, I went over to my friend Kyle’s house in Sacramento (a 20-minute drive on a good day) to drop off some nursery pots. Little did I know that four hours later, our driveway bed would have had a complete makeover: Driveway bed, December 2, 2:00 pm Let’s back up a bit. The driveway bed used to be anchored by our beloved ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde. It would be in flower from mid-spring into late summer, pleasing both humans and nectar-loving insects alike: Then, last New Year’s Eve, this happened: January 1, 2023 – the morning after January 1, 2023 The trunk of our palo verde had snapped off at the graft line in what was one of the worst storms in recent memory, both in terms of wind strength and total rainfall. Countless trees were damaged or completely uprooted across the Sacramento metro area, downing power lines and crushing cars and buildings. We got off easy; even though the palo verde landed on our van, there was no real damage beyond some scratches. The morning

Octopus agave bulbils – thousands of them

The November 2023 meeting of the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS) was all about making succulent wreaths. Members brought in a large variety of succulent cuttings, mostly things like crassulas, aeoniums, as well as echeverias, graptopetalums, sedums, and hybrids thereof. However, my eyes immediately went to this: Somebody brought the flower stalk of an octopus agave ( Agave vilmoriniana ) laden with bulbils! Almost all agave species are monocarpic, i.e., they flower once and then die. To reproduce, they employ various strategies. This includes making offsets, setting seeds, or producing bulbils – plantlets emerging on the flower stalk. Pollinated flowers can turn into seeds or bulbils; sometimes you find some of each on the same inflorescence. A few agave species produce bulbils as a matter of course, others do so only when the inflorescence becomes damaged. Genetically, bulbils are 100% identical to the mother plant. In reproductive (and practical) terms, they’re a mu

Drowning in leaves

Fall is a special time of year. Trees turning all kinds of color, what a beautiful sight that is. Our neighbor’s massive London plane tree But pretty soon the pretty leaves begin to fall – first a few, then a few hundred, then countless thousand. And somehow most of them end up in our garden, getting stuck in the center of agaves and aloes and swallowing up smaller plants almost entirely. See for yourself. I could have posted just a few photos to illustrate my point, but what would be the fun in that? Why limit yourself to one or two images when you can have a dozen or more! Plus, taking pictures of the annual leafageddon is the first step towards actually cleaning them up. Agave sebastiana and Malephora crocea Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’ and Mangave ‘Permanent Wave’ Rainbow hedgehog cactus ( Echinocereus rigidissimus ssp. rubrispinus ) Echinocereus rigidissimus ssp. rubrispinus This Aloe ‘Apache’ is almost completely buried, just the inflorescence sticking out Agave zebra and Mang