Early February vignettes from our garden (good things only)

As promised the other day, this post is blissfully free of blemished or otherwise damaged plants. It’s a quick peek at some of the things in the garden that look good right now. The gardener (i.e. moi) tends to focus on what’s amiss. In contrast, visitors or casual passers-by mostly notice what’s pretty. I want to be more like them.

On that note, off we go!

Yucca gloriosa var. recurvifolia ‘Bright Star’ continues to live up to its name. It took five years to get to this size, but the wait was worth it.

Aloe ‘Moonglow’ (left), Yucca rostrata (top), Agave americana ‘Mediopicta Alba’ (bottom). I’m still conflicted about whether I should remove the agave because it is encroaching on the sidewalk. For now, though, it stays.

Leucadendron ‘Ebony’ (top right), Maireana sedifolia (top left), Agave mitis × ‘Blue Glow’ (center). I’m 100% happy with these three.

Aloe ‘Tangerine’ (top), ×Mangave ‘Queen for a Day’ (bottom) is a killer duo.

×Mangave ‘Queen for a Day’ (bottom) looking good in spite of a few smaller blemishes caused by 26°F temperatures in December.

Aloe spectabilis × vaombe (top), Agave schidigera ‘Durango Delight’ (bottom) also make a great pair.

Aloe ‘Erik the Red’ with multiple inflorescences. It looks like it’ll flower on schedule even as other aloes are lagging behind.

Aloe ‘Moonglow’ has more inflorescences than ever but the flowers are still not open.

Aloe humilis × peglerae, a Nick Deinhart hybrid, is a wee thing, not even 6 inches across. It’s about to flower for the first time.

Aloe ferox × capitata with the compact flower heads typical of A. capitata. Here, the spectacle is over before it’s barely begun—in contrast to aloes with long flower heads (see ‘Erik the Red’ above), which bloom much longer.

Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’. with Aloe marlothii ‘Utrecht’ behind it. ‘Scarlet Sprite’ is in flower 300+ days a year.

Nolina texana with the frayed leaf tips that give it character. It’s a nice see-through plant that adds a contrasting texture.

Sparaxis tricolor (green leaves) and Glaucium flavum (bluish silver leaves). Sparaxis tricolor not only multiplies by bulb division, it also reseeds generously. After it’s done flowering and the foliage has started to dry up, it’s easy to pull out.

Dyckia ‘Naked Lady’ is usually a deep green. The lighter areas are too even to be frost damage per se, but clearly a response to the cooler temperatures

Agave bovicornuta, I might as well enjoy the beautiful (if fiercely armed) leaves while the plant is still alive. It’ll die soon after flowering, as most agave species do.

Plantings next to one of the three ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata), including Aechmea blanchetiana and Sedum ‘Coppertone’.

Cylindropuntia × campii is fiercely armed and probably shouldn’t be in our garden, but I love it anyway.

Cleistocactus brookeae growing steadily but slowly next to our trio of ponytail palms. It’s still too small to flower.

Cleistocactus straussii, on the other hand, flowers every year now. Aloidendron ramosissimum is in a pot behind the cactus but may go in the ground soon.

Unlike the pachypodiums from Madagascar (including the popular Madagascar palm, Pachypodium lamerei), Pachypodium namaquanum from Namaqualand is a winter grower and tolerates not only winter rains but also a few degrees of frost. Mine lives outside all year and seems to be doing well.

Aloe erinacea, native to arid areas of Namibia, has a reputation for being challenging in cultivation. I have killed two before, and now I know that it needs to be watered sparingly—very sparingly. In the summer, I dribble a bit of water on the soil every few weeks (none when it’s very hot). In the winter, it can take some rain, but I move it under cover when it rains for more than a day. It should be planted in a mix that has at least 50% pumice. I know collectors who successfully grow it in 100% pumice and fertilize it lightly with each watering.

And finally, here’s the inflorescence on our Agave potatorum. It resembles a tall, gangly teenager. The buds are still closed and there aren’t many of them. I can’t wait to see it in flower, but mostly I want to remove it and plant something else instead.

So there you have it. A walk on the bright side instead of a wallow in whatever gardeners wallow in at the dreariest time of the year.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. I forgot your Agave bovicornuta was blooming (has bloomed?). The color on that Dyckia ‘Naked Lady’ is interesting. In my garden that would mean death. I swoon over that Agave americana ‘Mediopicta Alba’!

    1. Agave bovicornuta sent up a flower stalk in the fall, now it's waiting out winter before the flowers actually unfurl and open.

      I have no clue what's going on with Dyckia 'Naked Lady'. It seems to be OK, but who knows!!

      Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba': I saw a dwarf (!) form at Solana Succulents today. Each rosette is only about 3 ft. wide. Swoon!

  2. The first four shots stole the show for me. Absolutely in love with 'Bright Star'. Wish I could find it. The A. Medio picta is too beautiful to remove. Maybe just snip the long spines near the sidewalk. Some gorgeous colour echoes happening in the third shot between the Agave and the Leucodendron. And I think you described it quite succinctly in the fourth shot. We do tend to be our own garden's worst critic and miss lots of the beauty.

    1. 'Bright Star' has never been very common here either. I think it's a plant a lot of people would buy if nurseries stocked it...

      Yeah, we're out worst critics when we should be our biggest fans, haha.

  3. You have a LOT of plants to celebrate, Gerhard! That new-to-me Agave mitis x 'Blue Glow' looks like a Mangave 'Praying Hands' on steroids. My Aloe 'Moonglow' show no signs of blooming this year but I'm trying to be satisfied with the fact they don't look as miserable as they did this summer. The Dyckia 'Naked Lady' is remarkable - I think I need to free mine from a pot to see if it's happier in the ground.

    1. YES!!! That 'Blue Glow' x mitis looks exactly like a Mangave 'Praying Hands' on steroids! I was at Solana Succulents this afternoon, and against all expectations, Jeff Moore still had a few of them in stock. I grabbed one for a friend in Davis.

      Dyckia 'Naked Lady' is a great choice for in-ground planting.

  4. Your plants look great, Gerhard. I hope my Yucca 'Bright Star' is successful. It is doing really well now as are the margarita. The summer will be the real test! I'm determined! My Aloe 'Moonglow' (I have 2) are both ahead of yours and blooming now. I do love them! Jeff Moore is going to speak to our cactus society in February. Can't wait!

    1. Yuccas are tough as nails once they've gotten a foothold. I think you'll be fine!

      My 'Moonglow' flowers are *still* not open. It's too cold at night, I think.

      I saw Jeff Moore the other day and he's excited!

  5. Lots of beauty there. I was bemoaning how awful my own garden looked the other day, then I slowed down and kept looking, and it wasn't quite as bad I as I first thought.

    To really see what we are constantly looking at, we need to slow down.

    1. Your garden is a paradise and shows the love and care always!

    2. I'm so glad that you were able to refocus on the positive aspects. Every garden has them, even in mid-winter.


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