Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Garden workout

I spent most of the day working in my garden on Monday, starting in late morning and continuing past sundown, with just an hour break for lunch.  It felt a little like boot camp at times and most of what I accomplished doesn't translate into photographs, pretty or otherwise.  I started with two solid hours on my back slope just cutting back dead growth and watering, wearing boots to stave off any of the fire ants that might still be down there somewhere.  I ended the day literally crawling on my hands and knees beneath my Echium 'Star of Madiera' to cut back several clumps of ornamental grass.  In between, I tackled moving a mid-sized Agave gypsophila located way too close to a path I use regularly.


This is the Agave in question in its original spot off the south side of the house.  The Cistus shrubs on two sides were constantly threatening to envelope it and its lower leaves were already encroaching on the adjacent flagstone path.


I decided the Agave would be much happier in the long run on the moderate front slope I cleared and replanted in November.  Moving it there necessitated a small game of musical chairs.

In order to move the Agave to the spot I'd selected, I had to move an Aloe striata x maculata pup but before moving the Aloe I had to move a large Aeonium rosette I'd planted in the new spot intended for the Aloe.  When I was done with those moves, I then filled in the spot vacated by the Agave with cuttings of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'.


I was a little nervous about damaging the Agave either in the process of digging it up or transplanting it on the top level of the front slope.  The latter required a degree of dexterity, difficult to manage given that my right knee isn't entirely reliable on level ground much less a slope.  A couple of times I reminded myself that now would not be the time to fall and crack my head as getting into an emergency room presents a serious problem in Los Angeles County at the moment.  However, I worked slowly and carefully and neither the Agave nor I were injured.


This is Agave gypsophila photographed from the path that leads down to my lath house

This is the view from outside the lath house looking up

Close-up of the Agave in its new spot


I'm glad I spent Monday gardening as high winds from noon on yesterday prevented me from doing much more outside than battening down what the wind sent flying.  We got a tiny bit of rain (0.02/inch) after nightfall, which barely dampened the pavement while liberally spattering the windows.  Wind gusts, some exceeding 40mph, continued overnight and it's still windy today.  Still, we were far luckier than some areas that saw toppled trees, widespread power outages, and, yes, more wildfires.

I'm hoping conditions later today will allow me to spend some time working on the front garden succulent bed.  I've been slowly working on renovating it, transferring plants from pots and other parts of the garden and generally moving things about.  I also purchased a "few" new plants by mail order that I'd like to get in the ground.

My mail order haul of tiny succulents, some from Mountain Crest Gardens and the rest from Little Prince of Oregon

For those of you in the US, happy Inauguration Day!  May the next four years be far better than the last four!


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

28 comments:

  1. Perversely, those hard garden battles always make you feel the most satisfied. Kind of like a medal of honour. The front slope is coming along nicely. Looking forward to some new positivity in the political realm.

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    1. You're right, Elaine. Moving the agave did feel like a real achievement in a way that the hours spent cleaning up the back slope doesn't.

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  2. I think that is a great place for the agave. It gives more weight to that area. Well done and safely too. :) I am glad you didn't encounter fire ants or blow away.

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    1. I don't think I'd have tried standing on the slope planting an unwieldy and heavy agave in winds like those we had on Tuesday, Lisa - they were fierce!

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    1. It definitely requires more effort to move a large agave than most transplant exercises, Diana. Agaves may be tough plants but their leaves are easily scarred and broken.

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  4. Good job on the Agave. It looks great in its new location. Hope you're not too sore today, that was a lot of work!

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    1. I was a bit sore on Tuesday but a workout of another sorts - cleaning the house from top to bottom - worked the kinks out, Eliza.

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  5. So glad you safely accomplished your mission - it looks good! Thought the whole ceremony today was splendid - enjoyed every moment even though worry did nibble at the edges.

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    1. Under the circumstances, I think the new administration did a great job with the inauguration, Barbara. It's sad that it had to conducted behind shields of various sorts but that's part of the pathetic legacy of President Biden's predecessor.

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  6. Nice job moving the Agave. The whole area looks really good with the rocks. Same thing happens here, move one thing means you have to move other things first.

    Glad your knee held out and you were safe from fire-ant attack. Are they somewhat dormant in the winter, do you think?

    A happy day. I feel so relieved and hopeful, for at least one day. Hopefully for more!

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    1. I want to believe that the fire ants are inactive in winter but, with temperatures as warm as they've been and it still so incredibly dry, I didn't want to take chances. I can testify that 30+ stings is a miserable experience.

      I'm expecting there will be a lot of bumps in the road for the new administration but I'm comforted by the fact that we'll have competent personnel in place there at last once they get through the approval process in the Senate.

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  7. Oh, I know that game of Musical Chairs with plants all too well. Doing it in my front yard right now... Hopefully my efforts will look as good as yours.
    What a happy day it was! Several neighbors just gathered in our back yard, around the fire pit, toasting the new administration. It was so nice to celebrate together - it instilled even more hope than I would have mustered alone.

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    1. That was a great way to celebrate yesterday, Anna. Hopefully, we'll have many more days to celebrate this year and the years to come. Just not having to dread looking at the newspaper this morning was a positive change!

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  8. Che invidia! Qui è incredibilmente freddo e in giardino c'è la neve da quasi un mese... non se ne può più...

    Però ti auguro delle bellissime giornate di lavoro in giardino :)

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    1. We have a true Mediterranean climate, Gabriel. It has its advantages, as well as a few disadvantages like persistent drought.

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  9. The slope looks wonderful, especially with all the rocks forming curving multi-tiered beds. The position of the A. gypsophila looks perfect relative to the tree. Looking at photos of gorgeous colors of ‘Fred Ives,’ I’m thinking I would like to have an in-ground location of a series of them somewhere in my garden. For now, I have one in a container. How do you move a large Agave? Do you cover it with a thick cloth to transport it?
    I spent the entire day watching the inauguration and then the celebration later that night. I was filled with emotion and let go of several minutes of tears of joy! It is great to feel hopeful. I wish you a wonderful Thursday and weekend!

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    1. Agave gypsophila isn't too prickly, Kay, so there was no need to don protective gear to move it. I dug up two mid-sized Agave colorata last year without special handling by just exercising care and holding them from the bottom. However, if those agaves had been any larger, it would have been a bigger problem. Their weight presents even more of a challenge than their spikes.

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  10. I think you'd be better off measuring your rainfall in millimeters... at least you'll get whole numbers rather than decimal points. Excellent work in the garden, I love those clean up days: hard work but extremely satisfying.
    I was glued to the television, waiting to exhale, feeling lightness I haven't felt in 4 years.

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    1. Ha! I actually thought about that when I drafted that post. We're expecting more rain this weekend but it sounds as though it's likely to be relatively paltry (again). As to yesterday, I felt very much the same!

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  11. Everything is so green and sunny! I love it! You're making me long for spring.

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    1. After a week of very warm weather, my garden seems to think it's already spring, Cindy. I found more Narcissi, a daylily, and an Anemone in bloom yesterday!

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  12. Gardening isn't always glamorous that's for sure, but your Agave results look fantastic and thank goodness for no trip to the ER. As for inauguration day wasn't that just wonderful?

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    1. Yes, it was a wonderful day and I hope the start of an entirely new chapter for all of us!

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  13. I'm glad you and the Agave are OK! What a great collection of new succulents. You were busy and creative, and your garden shows it. :)

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    1. Thanks Beth! I admit I pushed things with my knee a bit more than I should have ;(

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  14. Oh it sounds as if you had a most productive and rewarding day Kris. I can't wait until a day in the garden becomes a realistic proposition here 😄

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    1. I'm back at work on that same area today, Anna. We're in between rainstorms so it's an opportunity to add more succulent cuttings.

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