The garden in the golden hour

The other day I took some photos of the front yard in the golden light of evening – the garden looks particularly beautiful when hundreds of plants are backlit at the same time. It’s too hot right now to do much work in the garden so I’m sitting (or standing) back and enjoying the plants.

Dioon argenteum (center) just produced a flush of new leaves

The Corten plant next to the yucca is new. This is where Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' had been.

And a panorama of the area inside the fence

Now for some closer shots of individual plants that caught my eye:

Agave bovicornuta and Cylindropuntia × campii

Please excuse these multiple photos of Agave bovicornuta, but it looks glorious backlit and it will be removed shortly (we already cut down the flower stalk, and the roots have started to die)

This is possibly the last beauty shot of Agave bovicornuta I’ll be able to post

×Mangave ’Blue Dart’ (genes from Agave macroacantha, Agave shawii, and Manfreda maculosa)

Agave ’Blue Glow’

Agave ocahui and dogweed (Thymophylla pentachaeta)

Agave zebra

Agave palmeri (Sonoita dwarf form)

Agave wocomahi

Blue globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus) now in glorious bloom. Easily my favorite plant in the garden right now.

Cleistocactus strausii and several small Aloidendron dichotomum

Silver cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa), still a baby in a 4-inch pot

Ferocactus pilosus

Echeveria agavoides ’Ebony’

Many bromeliads I’ve added over the years have not been happy with our hot summers, but this Billbergia ’Hallelujah’ has done exceptionally well in a spot that gets full afternoon sun

Eucalyptus macrocarpa stretching towards the sun

Aloidendron ’Hercules’ reaching into our chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), which has never flowered the way it has this

Dasylirion longissimum (in tall planter), with leafed-out ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) on the right

Yucca queretaroensis (or more likely a natural hybrid with Yucca filifera)

We’re heading into another heatwave, with a high of 107°F (42°C) predicted for Saturday. Normally I would complain a bit about the excessive heat, but in light of the extreme temperatures my friends in Arizona and beyond have had to endure, I will hold back. My heart goes out to all of you.

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


  1. Nothing can outdo a backlit Cholla, can it? Your plants look great despite the heat. Like Indiana Jones, you chose wisely. ;^) The ocotillo looks very good. Did you grow the A. dichotomum from seed?

    We have our first real heatwave of the year now, but only the low 90's. here. We lucked out with a fabulous December to mid-July, the best in nearly two decades, so can't complain. AZ and parts of TX have had it worse.

    1. I love backlit chollas, too. However, when this little baby gets too big, I'll have to find a new home for it. I don't want a large cholla in my garden.

      The dichotomum are pieces of one plant. A squirrel knocked over the pot it was in and it broke into three pieces. They all rooted.

  2. Everything looks glorious in that light but you've accumulated an outstanding collection of plants by any measure. My brain stopped when I saw the Aloidendron ’Hercules’ against the backdrop of the chaste tree. I'll own up to the fact that mostly had to do with the chaste tree. I planted one from an Annie's 4-inch pot several years ago and it's still dinky.

    Like HB, our heat is also in the low-90s. It feels miserable by comparison to the comfortably cool temperatures we've gotten used to but it's not 107! Stay cool, Gerhard!

    1. Re: vitex: I talked to some people just the other day, and they also said that they've never seen the vitex looking so good. There are several on campus, and they're in glorious bloom as well. Ours was from a 4" pot, too. It was one the first things we planted when we bought the house many years ago.

  3. Thank you for the kind words about AZ, Gerhard. This weekend is going to be even more horrible if that is possible. It is the nights because they are running over 90º for days and days, actually 92º to 95º. You should see my poor A. Hercules! It is over 7 feet and I can't cover it anymore and it is all yellow. Ugh! Your garden is a dream! So beautiful backlit! I love the Echinops bannaticus. My plants are mostly covered with 50% shade cloth and even under it, some cactus are suffering. I am so afraid this is just the beginning for our world and it will get worse and worse from now on. I hear the heat is bad in Germany also.

    1. I've been worrying about your plants. It sounds like you're doing all you can do. Fingers crossed that this heat will break soon. Where are the monsoons??

  4. A. bovicornuta is putting on a fabulous show in it's last stages. Things are always changing. Do you know what will replace it? Overall your garden is looking full and beautiful. Nothing like backlit spines to highlight the uniqueness of each plant. Amazing how many different types of spines there are too.

    1. I have a variegated Agave bovicornuta that would make a good replacement. Being variegated, it's a slow grower--and possibly will remain a smaller plant overall. In general, though, I'm tending more towards small agaves that don't take up so much space.

  5. Did your Agave ‘stained glass’ bloom? If so did your get any pups on the flower stalk? I have one that is about finished blooming, but so far no pups.

    1. No, but it was getting too big and beginning to look a bit ratty.

      As for bulbils on the flower stalk, just give it time. It will produce hundreds :-)

  6. I will miss your Agave bovicornuta, but ×Mangave ’Dodge Dart’ (hahaha, I couldn't resist) is also a hottie. Eucalyptus macrocarpa manages to look ice cold even in the heat.

    1. Eucalyptus macrocarpa is perennially awesome although it does have an unruly growth habit.

      Mangave 'Dodge Dart', are you comparing it to a rather plain and unexciting vehicle??? :-)


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