Even in sunny Southern California, winter tends to tamp down activity in the garden. The good news is that succulents provide interest year-round. In fact, washed clean of accumulated dust and dirt by even a light amount of rain and facing less competition from flashy flowers, they shine in winter, at least in my frost-free climate.
The weather generally permits daily walks around the neighborhood and I recently took notice of a couple of interesting developments.
|Walking with a neighbor, we stopped in front of the long border at the front of her house and I noticed that the flowers of her variegated Aloe arborescens had a crested form, which I've never seen before|
|Two Agave attenuata (foxtail agaves) in another neighbor's street-side garden have developed hefty bloom stalks|
Back on my home turf, as I was cleaning up leaves in my front garden, I noticed that one of my own agaves is also preparing to bloom.
|This is Agave 'Multicolor' (syn Agave mitis 'Multicolor', formerly classified as Agave celsii). I purchased this one in 2017 and acquired 2 more somewhat later.|
I was startled to find that Agave 'Multicolor' is going to bloom - and that its bloom stalk was already about six feet tall by the time I noticed that fact. On the other hand, two agaves I check regularly for signs of a bloom event are maintaining the status quo.
|The Agave ovatifolia (whale's tongue agave) shown here has been in this spot for over 10 years. It and its companion, Agave vilmoriniana (octopus agave), planted in 2014, are both larger than this photo makes them appear.|
Aloe blooms don't present the concerns that agave blooms do as aloes don't die after flowering. I don't have many aloes that bloom this early in the season but I noticed a few this week.
|This is one of the smaller hybrids, Aloe 'Safari Sunrise'|
|The centerpiece in the middle of this collection of agaves and yuccas is a hybrid Aloe vanbalenii x ferox. This will be the second time it's bloomed in my garden since it was planted in 2016.|
|The bed in the foreground was replanted with a variety of succulents in late 2021 and the bed in the background was replanted with succulents this year|
|The succulents and bromeliads in this bed along the front property line were replanted in September following our water pipe replacement project|
|This is one of my oldest succulent beds, first planted in January 2016 in the front garden next to the garage after we removed the last of our lawn. The only succulent that was in place here when we bought the property was that multi-trunked clump of Agave attenuata in the background on the left. Despite adding and subtracting succulents for years, I'm still dissatisfied with the area overall. I think my original error, which I repeated again and again, was relying too much on small plants. Rather than continue to tweak it, I think a wholesale replanting may be in order.|
After scrutinizing those succulent beds I decided to stop procrastinating about tweaking the bed adjacent to the back of the house.
|This week, I added 3 cuttings of Aeonium 'Sunburst' and 7 pups of Agave bracteosa (squid agave), all relatively small. You may not even be able to make them out in this wide shot.|
|These photos taken from inside the house show the additions more clearly. The Aeonium cuttings should grow quickly but the squids may take their time.|
There are other succulent beds I haven't shown in this post of course. Can you believe that, when we moved in over ten years ago, the only succulent in my garden was that multi-trunked Agave attenuata in the front garden? Not only have I propagated that particular foxtail agave many times over, I've added too many other succulents to count since then. With every passing year, more and more of my garden has been given over to succulents and, due to the pressures of climate change, I fully expect that trend to continue.
Best wishes for a wonderful start to December! Rain is in our forecast for the weekend but the prospects are literally shifting hour-to-hour - and not in a positive direction. One system is expected to pass through in the early morning hours, to be followed by another system on Sunday but, even if the rain materializes, it's no longer expected to amount to much here along the coast. Fingers are crossed that we'll do better than the forecasters are currently projecting.
All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party