Wednesday 8 June 2011

Cutting back

I used to define one aspect of collecting plants as having to track down every form of a plant.  Thankfully so far I have mainly managed to avoid falling for that one, although there are plants like agave parryi, or agave filifera where I have various forms. In vary rare cases the different forms have come about as I learnt more, echeveria agavoides is the best example of this. I first purchased this one as it is meant to be hardy.  The first was an un-named form

It didn't really stand out for me and having owned it for a while I wasn't even 100% it was agavoides. The next one I stumbled across was e. agavoides corderoyi:

A much better form and it was easier to see why it was called agavoides with the shape similar to agaves. The pink tinge to the leaf margins was not the strongest colour, so the search went on.  Next was e. agavoides red edge (also often sold a lipstick)

This I thought was the best form, a good strong shape with the dark red edges. So my quest was over. Until I saw the real must have form e. agavoides ebony.  This is the plant everyone wants, and as such it still hard / impossible to find in the UK.  I managed to track down a little plant from a friend who was trying some leaves, it has grown but still needs to darken up to fully live up to the name.

Compare it to this one I have posted before, from one of the BCSS national shows, and you can see what I mean.

Since then I have got a second plant which is much darker and hopefully means I can end my search for the perfect echeveria agavoides. So what started out as looking for a hardy plant I ended up with 4 different forms, and of course many many offsets

You may be wondering what this has to do with cutting back on the number of  plants. Recently in an attempt to free up space, and dare I say it cut back on the number of pots, I have been going through my plants and trying to get rid of a few.  Obviously the work garden has helped and I have taken almost 100 pots to work. For anyone who commutes to work on public transport, it seems that carrying an agave is the perfect way to stop people invading your personal space on a crowded train!

So all the duplicates went without problems,  but I still needed more space for new purchases. This is where the tough choices had to be made, it is never easy to get rid of plants that you had actively been searching out maybe only a year ago. Where I had multiple forms of a plant seemed one place to start.  So there has been a cull of forms in the garden . Some have been moved to work, some have been planted in the dry bed to take their chances next winter, with only the best forms having survived in pots.  In the case of echeveria agavoides this means the ebony and the red edge.  It would purely have been ebony, but the red edge has grown into a beautiful specimen, about 25cm across, and who could get rid of this plant:

I guess collecting is no different to gardening in general,  plants come and go to make space. But don't worry the cull has been limited. I still have too many pots and have just found another form of agave filifera that I must have.


  1. You have a beautiful collection, they all have such nice form! My heater disaster this past winter allowed me to add just "a few more" to my every growing succulent collection. The only problem is that they season is early!

  2. Mandy, I love the way we all use disasters to our advantage to buy new plants. A very positive way to look at things. There are a few note worthy echeverias that bloom later in the season. Blue prince blooms all summer for me, black prince is end of summer some of the white ones like peacockii are mid summer.

  3. I love seeing the obsessions of other gardeners! Love 'Ebony', can totally see why it's so sought after, but 'Red Edge' is just as lovely. I can't say I'm collecting anything with as much zeal as you are ;-) but I do find myself buying lots of varieties of grasses, Agastaches and Astrantias...and must stop is rapidly dwindling!

  4. Scott, Red edge is great as it gives the same look but you don't worry about it being outside. And you know you can't stop with your plants yet, you still have loads of space.