Saturday, 30 June 2012

Finally getting somewhere

It seems to have taken forever but we have found a house!  Can't tell you how excited (and terrified) I am about it, especially when the people buying ours announced they could not move forward yet as they don't have the deposit they said they had 3 months ago! I could really rant about this, but given we decided to put the house back on the market and had accepted an offer 20 minutes later it all ended ok. Once we have got to a stage that nothing can go wrong, I'll post some pictures, but for now we are working to get everything sorted in the hope of moving early in August.

The most important thing is this means I have been busy continuing to dig up the dry bed. Or I would have been if we hadn't had the wettest June on record.  It has not been succulent weather. Strangely it has not been that cold and between storms when the sun does show itself, it's actually lovely. Today was one of those days, so between other jobs, I dug up some of the echeverias.  To save space I used a cheap plastic trough to plant them into as a temporary home.   There are 10 varieties in this first bunch alone (can you name them), given they have all been outside unprotected for at least the last two years, I am amazed so many have survived.

The pot may be ugly but I am actually pleased with how all the plants look.  It will be fun to see how much they fill out. I had to be strict and not take every plant, and keep telling myself that I can propagate more once we move. Besides leaving some for the next owner may get them interested in continuing the succulent planting instead of starting again with a more traditional garden.

One of the other plants I have been taking cuttings from is the aloe striatula.  There are two clumps in the dry bed and given how quickly they root, I figured taking cuttings would save space.  I'm not sure I need all of these:

They have been resting in a rack for the last week or so and looking yesterday I found this:

Typical isn't it, there's not one flower on those that are still planted, and this one flowers as an un-rooted cutting.  They have all been potted up now, so we'll see if the flower aborts or not.

Fingers crossed tomorrow will be sunny and I can fill another three troughs. If I can that would be the majority of the digging up finished, leaving only the large yuccas to go.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Agave montana

I have mentioned this agave several times over the years and thought it was time to give it a post all to itself. It is a lovely variety with a good structural form and viscous terminal spines.  The good ones have a red tinge to the edge of the leaves and a row of red/brown teeth.  The bigger they get (and they do get big) the better their colouring should get.  

One of the reasons it is such a good plant is that it comes from higher altitude around the edge of forests in Mexico and this means not only can it cope with cold, but likes it slightly wetter as well. in fact it seems to do most of its growing at the start and end of the summer when the temperatures are lower and rainfall slightly higher.  This makes it perfect for growing in the UK and one of the fastest agaves for growth here.

After a couple of bad winters, it was given a bit of a hard time as many people lost their plants.  I think this was simply because people had planted out very young plants.  Some agaves are born tough, agave montana is not one of those.  It needs time to settle into growth and to build up its cold hardiness.  Once plants get to about 50cm they seem to cope fine with minimal protection from snow. 

There is no doubt they like to be in the ground.  A few years back I bought the plant in the above photos along with a second identical one. One got planted the other has been kept in pots waiting for more space for it to be planted.  This has given me an ideal opportunity to compare how they cope with the different situation. I have always known the the one in the ground has done better, but with digging the dry bed up I was finally able to compare the two and i was surprised by the difference:

You would never know they were identical 3 years ago.  Whatever the reason for this extra growth, when we finally get our new garden all my agave montanas are going in the ground.