Tuesday, 13 May 2014

State of the agave

State of the agave: Spring 2014

I'll still never forget several years ago when I bought my first agave. The nursery worker felt the need to give me the disclaimer: "You know you can't grow that here, right?" It was probably the worst words you could say to a zonal denial gardener. In fact, if my wallet could have allowed I would have asked her to ring through another one. But over the years of agave growing the collection has grown. At times there have been some losses, but my agave obsession continues. This winter was relatively kind on the agave I must say. All but one of the in ground agave came through just fine.

I thought I'd start with my agave ovatifolia 'frosty blue.' In the picture you can see how I have planted several agave around my beloved butia capitata. On a sunny day I love going outside and setting up a lawn share right next to this part of the garden. Things went well this winter for these agave. You can see some spotting on the lower arms of the most exposed of the two agave ovatifolia.
 This is a new to me agave awaiting the final decision on where it should live in the garden. It didn't have a tag but it very much resembles my agave parryi JC Raulston and I do believe that is what it is.
 Moving back into the garden agave bracteosa 'calamar' went through winter like a champ. It did get some spots on the lower arms. Considering the late winter snow and ice events that this thing endured I'd say that it has done great!
Onto the agave parryi... all of my agave parryi did great this winter. The worst (not shown here) was agave parryi 'truncata.' I had to remove a few arms along the bottom but otherwise it looks great. Lower right is my agave parryi 'JC Raulston, this one never receives any love and always looks great. Again if you look close there are the odd spots along the lowest arms but nothing significant. And the agave parryi huachucensis in the lower left hand corner seems to handle winter with ease. I removed several arms from this guy and it already looks to have outgrown that awkward freshly cleaned up agave look.
 Finally agave parryi var. parryi has done exceedingly well this winter. It is planted on the steepest angle of all my agave and it seems to be happy to have all water drain away from it.  In fact, the only agave surgery I ever perform with this guy is the lowest arms along the bottom of the slope. Our soil is really sandy and most plants suffer in this spot over the years. But the agaves seem to flourish.
As an aside: I have a small agave farm starting. Not a real agave farm. But a funny backyard pup separating, agave starting, 4 inch container farm of baby agaves. Last count there were 18. That didn't take into account the other long term potted agaves kicking around. It's becoming a problem... a good problem!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Weekly Fav: Butia Capitata

My Favourite plant in the garden this week is Butia Capitata or sometimes referred to as the jelly palm (because jelly is often made from its fruit) or the pindo palm. It just so happens to also coincide with a recent palm acquisition. My good friend Becca recently moved into a downtown apartment and so she gave me her potted pindo palm. This is my second pindo palm. I love how tropical they look in the garden. Being one of the hardiest of the pinnate palms (having feather-like leaves instead of a fan), they are particularly nice for providing a more tropical looking palm for the garden.

I should note that pindo palms are generally not considered longterm hardy in most of the Pacific Northwest. If you live in a sheltered coastal area or USDA zone 8b-9a region, then this palm will do fine without protection. I protect mine when temperatures fall into the mid teens. It has experienced temperatures down to near 18F unprotected with no damage when it was still potted.

I mean really, what's not to love!? I will admit that my largest pindo palm looks a tad bit ratty after this last winter, but it will grow out of it really quick.

Here's what San Marcos Growers has to say:

Butia Capitata
Height: 15-20 feet
Width: 10-15 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Winter Hardiness: 15-20° F

*In my experience the more sun the better for the PNW. These palms really like heat and are slow unless they get a good amount of sunlight. For the PNW we are better to grow butia eriospatha - if you can find them available.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Garden Stalking in West Vancouver

I've been to this garden once before and when I was passing it the other day I had to stop and do some garden stalking. It's really that good. First off, when you pull up to the house it looks like something out of somewhere much much warmer. These towering palms greet passers by.


Look at all the ripe palm seed!

It looks as though they have recently planted these nice yuccas. When this one fills out and starts growing it will look really great!

From another angle you can see just how beautiful this garden is.


But here's where things get really exciting. There's a young tree fern looking beautiful, and can you spot the coziers opening up in the far left hand side of this photo behind the wall?

My visit was unannounced so I didn't get right into their driveway to take the pictures. But here you can see the new growth of those tree ferns poking up behind that wall.

And here I was exercising my best iPhone paparazzi zoom into the driveway area! Check out the size of that dicksonia antarctica!

This was right on the road and easier to get a nice shot!

Have you done any garden stalking lately? I simply must work up the courage to ask for a full fledged tour. This garden is too spectacular!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Northwest Flower and Garden Show ... better late than never

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show might have been a couple of months ago, but it's still fresh in my memory. This was my first year making it down to the show. I didn't really know what to expect other than potentially high amounts of plant lust.

Knowing that Pot Inc. was doing a feature for the small space showcase, I knew there would at least be something cool to see. I was really taken away by all the great displays. But truth be told (and I might be a bit biased), the Pot Inc. display stole the show! 


Check out this beautiful fire bowl planter. How's that for a conversation piece?


I love the leptospermum and agave combination in this container. It's another plant I've added to my must have when I visit cistus nursery.

 One of the main features of the booth were these great hover planters that I shared about just the other day. From the bottom you can see the drainage holes! When you love succulents, that is something to get excited over!

The wood backdrop fits perfectly. Speaking of perfect, check out those yucca rostrata!


This is such a great composition. The geometric containers and colours suit the plants perfectly.


I'm seriously in love with these things!

And if you're lucky enough to be in the Vancouver area this weekend, Pot Inc. is having a sale of some of their containers and plants. Check out their facebook page for information.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

My wish came true ... Tetrapanax Papyrifer

I have always been envious of the tetrapanax I see in photos. My tropical loving heart has always admired the way they evoke a sense of jungle. But tetrapanax has always been elusive to me. For years I have searched. I go to specialty nurseries hoping to spot one hiding out somewhere. I go to plant sales thinking, maybe this will be the day.

A few weeks ago I was reading the danger garden blog and Loree was sharing about her tetrapanax. I made a joke that maybe one would magically spread all the way from Portland to the Fraser Valley. They do have a reputation of being a garden thug after all. Loree warned me, "Careful, don't tempt it." Well I did. I definitely tempted it. And look what happened!


Okay, it didn't make it's way up here from Portland. I was at the Van Dusen Botanical Garden plant sale and I spotted this guy on the ground beside a table. There were only two of them hiding out. I was so excited!


I planted it between these two hostas. They will get huge in the coming weeks and I'm hoping for even bigger towering tetrapanax leaves! I'm super excited! Let the tetrapanax get growing!!!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Hover Dish from Pot Inc.

Many of you have seen the amazing collection of Hover Dish planters from Pot Inc. They were featured this year at the small space showcase at the Northwest Flower and Garden show and have been popping up at some of the best nurseries around. My friend and designer Todd Holloway has done an incredible job with these awesome hanging planters.

With many thanks to Todd, I received an awesome Flango Hover Dish in my favourite iceberg colour. And as I always do right when I get any new container, I went plant shopping of course! So I set out to Western Independent Greenhouses to get some sweet succulents to fill out my hover dish!

I already had the blue elf aloe kicking around and had been planning on featuring it in a succulent pot. Here is my hover just after planting. I left it out in the hot sunshine that we had last week to let things settle into place before hanging it.

Yesterday was the big day to hang the hover! I'm thrilled with how it turned out!

 And with the pouring rain and cooler weather that we're having today, it certainly brightens my day - and our patio! Now I want more hovers!

Friday, 2 May 2014

UBC Botanical Garden and West End

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting the UBC Botanical Gardens. I didn't have my camera with me (I know, thats a crime), so the iphone has to do. There were some really great things to share! No day at the UBC Botanical Gardens is complete without a visit to the beach - that's where my day started. This is a view I'll never get tired of. With blue skies, sunshine, and a view of the San Juan and Gulf Islands, it takes my breath away. (Disclaimer: in warm weather there are naked people everywhere)

It's a short but tiring hike up the hillside to the gardens. I stopped for "photos" - In all actuality I had to catch my breath!

The gardens are filled with so many gems. I could go on and on, but I'll save some for my return visit (this time I'll bring the good camera). Here are a couple of my favourites from the garden ...


 Here's where things got really interesting! These yucca schottii are absolutely stunning. There are actually three here (one in behind). It makes me feel like I'm somewhere in the southwest. I need one of these. or two. or three.

The legendary UBC agave parryi look perfect! Heck, mine don't even look this nice in August.

The gardens really transport you. Here, I'm lying under a sea of eucalyptus trees.

This stunner is eucalyptus coccifera. These were for sale last year at a local nursery. If I'd seen this tree before then I certainly would have bought one! WOW!

I forgot which variety of manzanita this was, but it's a fine example of a drought tolerant garden alternative. I'm determined to get some manzanita when I'm done reclaiming the rest of the ivy jungle portion of the yard.

On the way out of UBC I had to snap one last picture! 

This sculpture along English Bay summed up my facial expression after visiting the UBC Botanical Gardens.


Truth be told the day felt like a vacation. This last picture of a eucalyptus (gunnii?) in the downtown West end really sums up the feeling. With all the eucalyptus, spiky plants, and palms it felt reminiscent of SoCal and I LOVED IT!