Sunday, 7 July 2019

What's left behind

I've been taking lots of pictures of the agaves recently. From different angles, close ups, almost everything execpt the whole  plant.


One of the sets of photos has been around the spines. At this time of year they are at their best. This agave parryi 1684 has a range of colours from yellow to almost black as they age.


Looking at this photo the bud inprints really stand out. These depressions produced by the previous leaf before they unfurl, leaving the perfect impression of what is no longer there.


Not all agaves produce them and some are better than others. They come in different forms, the depressions like these, then there are some where pail powder hasn't formed as thickly like agave ovatifolia.


Combine the impression with a bit of powder and you get really defined inprint, like agave montana.


It gives a pretty special look to the leaves.


When the spines are more ornate the effect is even more special.


I believe in art they call it have a term negative space, and it's thought that the space left between what is draw / painted is as important as the what is marked.  It seems with agaves that the space left by what was there can be as dramatic.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

The sun is out at last.

It's been a glorious sunny weekend here, the first of the summer sadly. Lots of work in the garden, so expect an update soon. In the mean time, over lunch I noticed the sun shining through the edge of the agave parasana fireball.


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Succulent rockery revamp

I mentioned in previous posts that the main succulent rockery needed a bit os a revamp, the post can be found here. At the time the rockery looked like this:


The agave salmiana had already been removed along with the other plants being dug out, or moved to other locations in the bed. The rock was ordered, set out and finally we had a break in the rain and it was possible to plant it up. First filling the gaps in the exisiting section.  Where the aloe striatula was we planted a catus, a trichocereus pachanoi.



What looks like the wire cage around it, was testing out things that could be used to provide a cover for winter protection. There's still a couple of gaps to be filled, but they can be filled with pots until I decide what will fit.

Where the agave salmiana was there is now a little agave asperrima. My plant is only small so here is a photo of the mother plant at Crete Lodge.


The new plants still need to fill out to make that section more balanced with the left hand side.


As you can see the aloe polyphylla is flowering nicely this year.

The other side of the railway sleeper is the new extension to the bed.  The first plants to go in were the aloe polyphyllas, just infront of the post you can see the one that has been planted.  In the pot next to it, is the tripple headed that will stay in the pot this year and be planted next year when better established.

The main plants in this section are the twin yucca rostrata. This looks so much better now it is in a gravel bed and can be seen more clearly.  A good trim helped as well.


The second larger plant was suppose to be an agave montana. Again thanks to Melissa at Crete Lodge.  She found them for sale marked as agave montana, but they are obviously not pure montana, so either a hybrid or something totally different. Sometimes you find plants which are just being sold with the wrong name, and then you find plants which are just oddities. As we have no idea what it is, we have no idea how hardy it is, or how big it will get.  It all adds to the fun.

Also in the bed you can see the agave mitis var albicans.  This is a lovely form of A. mitis, much rarer and probaly not as hardy. It has been fine for me and as the idea will be to cover this bed to some degree I though it was worth a try.  The aloe saponaria variegata has proven hardy in the existing part of the rockery.

The other larger plants to go in here are the manfredas and in the future possible mangaves.  I have planted two manfreda gutattas as an initial test.  They have been fine cold wise when kept dry.   Plus with the flowering plant offsetting I have lots of them.


There are already quite a few smaller alpines mixed in, the great thing about rockeries is the play you canget between the plants and rocks.


Lots of space to fill out, which this year will be filled with pots.



It all looks a bit small compared to the established parts, so you will have to imagine to picture it all equalled out in a few years time. I'm pleased so far and if it ever stops raining it will look great in the sun.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

I may have over done the propagating

So the last post showed the set of echeveria comptons carousel. Those are not the only plants I've been propagating.  In fact there is one shelf in the greenhouse that looked amazing


It was probably a bit of an ebayers dream, on the right we have the e. compton carousel, on the left agave filifera marginata. Probably not as commercial are the middle rows of mangaves.  These are the manfreda virginica x agave obscura produced by a friend and the one that flowered last year. Given that Paul died shortly after producing them and didn't give out many, that is probably 30 - 40% of all the ones in existance. The seedlings are coming along and are just hidden behind the larger agave filifera marginatas.  There are definitely at least two distinct types forming, so once they have grown a bit more I'll have to update the post on them. Then in the back are the manfreda gutatta bulbils.

The agave filiferas came from my large bowl. It had been left alone for two years and had got a bit out of control.
 

The main problem was the weeds growing up between the plants. It was getting too painful pulling them out, so time for a quick repot.


I have kept three interesting ones, the largest, a good medium sized and a very pale one. They should look great as a set once the smallest one has filled out a bit. I decide to keep them separate as the large one has turned in to such a feature plant it deserves to be displayed a bit more prominently.


The sad thing is, on the other side of the greenhouse there are another two shelves full of gasteraloes, aloe vipers and more mangaves.  I think it is fair to say i have a porpagation problem. This was not all for nothing, I have realised I don't like selling plants on Ebay as it is a hastle, so instead prefer to sell / trade on mass. So during my trip to Norfolk I unloaded most of these. So now I have lots os space again.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Anual trip to Crete Lodge exotic garden

So yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Crete lodge exotic garden again.  Melissa and Keith have continued their tireless work in the garden and it was looking better than ever.  Sadly the memory card in my camera seems to have got scrambled, so I lost a lot of the photos, but some had been downloaded first.

The sunken garden is a good place to start as there is always something in flower.




Look at the size of that agave ovtifolia. Sadly it is starting to suggest it may flower, the same for the agave weberi and with the horrida in the first photo already flowering that would be three flowers in that section of the garden alone!

Ther are so many sections to the garden and that is before you even get to the cactus house and other greenhouses.  The biggest section is the main succulent bank and the new sections the other side of the path.  Looking down from the sunken garden you get the first glimpse over the green roof.


Melissa is particularly proud of the new pot.


The bank has some of the largest agave montanas scattered across it.



A bit further down and you come one of the newer parts of the garden.


I love the combination of the succulents with the traditional UK gravel garden plants.


Every angle gives you a different set of plants


The bank carries on around to a section full of yuccas and palms, these photos didn't make it, so back up to the terrace, via a lovely little olive bed. Keith does all the main structural brick work and then Melissa does the decorative fronts.  The whole garden is covered in these lovely little sections meaning no planting opportunities are missed.


The terrace has some feature agaves as well.  The larger one maybe about to flower but this time I had lost count of the number.


Annoying all the other photos were lost.  So I'll juts have to go back another time and re-take them. Those on facebook can go to their page, found here. It is always an inspiration to visit and obviously I always leave with a plant or two, even if I'm not allowed to liberate everthing I would like.

I'll leave you with one last photo looking down the main succulent section, it is hard to believe this is the UK.


Monday, 3 June 2019

Starting again

The pot that gets the most comments, especially on here, is the large bowl of echeveria comptons carousel. It probably stood out as these are suppose to be difficult, so a bowl full is quite rare.


The mild winter meant they got a bit tatty, so I decided to start again and cut the whole thing up.  The plants are at a good stage now, so I thought I would show how to go about dead heading these in the hope that others find it useful. Having cut the heads off, they get cleaned up, all dead leaves removed and checked for any issues. Then place them on a wire shelf to dry. I tend to leave these for a couple of weeks, this not only gives them time to callus over but also for roots to start.


At this point they are ready to be planted up. No water for the first few days and then grandually over the next couple of weeks you can water a little bit more each time.  This seems to be a good rule for them in general (after re-potting, after purchasing) - start slowly with the watering.


Don't worry if you lose a few leaves, especially if you get a sudden hot spell at this stage. You will probably find a few leaves mark, but they will grow out and within a couple of months you won't notice. After a couple of weeks if you try to gently move the rosette it should hold firm showing the roots have taken and the plant is good to go.

Not sure what I am going to do with 10 pots full of these. Over the next couple of years they will each form clumps and I would guess two repots will be all that's required to get one back into the large bowl again. I guess I have some good trading material for this summer.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Some things are meant to be

A couple of year ago I experimented with hypertufa, making a couple of test pots.  They were nothing special at the time, but slowly moss started to grow on them and they have turned into much more natural pots.  I have been looking for something to go in them and was surprised to find a little agave filifera at the local garden center.  They are just made for each other.


The agave has a certain compacta look to it, which would be great.  Sadly it is probably just a young plant, so will need some sort of intervention to keep it small. Either way for the next couple of years it is going to be put somewhere to be admired.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Echeveria laui flower

I have said it before, there are few echeverias that have the drama of echeveria laui in flower.


Tuesday, 21 May 2019

It's echeveria season

The garden and pots are are full of flower spikes at the moment. The best are in the echeveria elegans river, which looks amazing at this time of year.


In the evening they are backlit which adds to the drama.  The bumble bees love them


The concrete egg is full of echeveria cuspidata var zaragoza, which is one of my favourites. Sadly it isn't hardy for my garden so has to be moved inside over winter.

The flowers are are a nicer colour than the very pale elegans.

While out enjoying the evening sun, I thought I might as well plant up the aloe aristatas. I have been trying to get some to survive for the last few years and they seem fine in the main rockery. They have got to a decent size now and have properly started to spred


I have been growing on a pot to plant at the fron of the cycad rockery. The hope is they will contrast well with the echeverias.


Friday, 3 May 2019

Exciting mangave update

So last year was a good mangave and manfreda year, with flowers on two manfredas, more on that in another post, and the mangave flowering.  So a quick recap: the mangave was produce by a friend and is hybrid between manfreda virginica and agave obscura


The pollen was provided by friends over at Crete Lodge exotic garden. They seem to have agaves in flower every year now, this time there were two agaves flowering at the same time. An agave mitis and one labelled as agave horrida, although they suspect it is not.

Photo courtesy of Melissa at Crete Lodge
Isn't that wall amazing, such a shame that the agave left such a big gap.

So the last time I posted progress on the flower spike there were seed pods. It seemed to take forever but finally these opened and amazingly there were seeds. These where sown and placed in a heated prop.  To be honest I was not that confident anything would germinate.

I was wrong, one month later and there were around 40 seedlings.


The problem was that in my eagerness, winter was the wrong time to sow them. They needed to be kept alive until spring and I'm terrible with seedlings: too much water, too little water. So I'm really surprised that 4 months later 19 are still alive. I'll take 50% surviving any day.


I know not very interesting to look at yet. It is only in the last few weeks they have really started to grow, most are now sending out their 2nd proper leaf. How good would it be to have a few new mangaves of my own making. I really hope that some of the horrida (or not) parentage comes through. I do like my toothie plants.

The funny thing is, with the two different pollen donars I would guess I am now the largest mangave producer in the UK. 

Monday, 29 April 2019

The aloe polyphyllas

For many people aloe polyphylla is the must have aloe. The beautiful spiral and the fact that it is one of the hardiest aloes both adding to its attraction.  I have three now, that is if you count the cored multihead one as one plant.  It's still growing well and may be crunch time to decide what to do. Leave it so as not to risk loosing it, or cut it up to at least give two plants.


There are 6 heads in total all about the same size. I figure I could cut down the middle to give two clumps with roots, or cut two heads off to keep a multi-headed plant and separate the rest with or without roots. Either way, some of it is going to have to planted out at some point soon, they are getting too big for pots and grow so much quicker in the ground.

The second plant is one given to me a friend after I managed to kill all my seedlings.  We both got seeds from the same place at the same time, only he managed not to kill his. I am slowly getting better with seedlings due to my mangave hybrids and a few tests on random seeds, so maybe I'll have to try again.  Anyway it has been potted into a 30cm pot to give it one more year in which I can bring it inside.  I will probaly just place it where the plant will be in the new section of the rockery.


I think in the Uk they need to be about 30cm at least to survive planted out, even then I will most likely cover it just to give it that little extra protection.

The final plant is the large one. It sailed through winter without any damage.


The exciting news is that it is flowering again, having had a year off last year.


It will be a couple of months before the flower is fully open, but good to know it is back to flowering.