Where there’s a whale, there’s a way


Moby, my 10-year-old whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia), which for 22 days has been sending a bloom stalk skyward, seems to be in transition. The stalk is now about 10 or 11 feet tall and holding.


Meanwhile, clusters of yellow flowers are emerging along the asparagus-shaped stalk.


The clustered flower buds on sturdy stems remind me of broccoli. Why is everything about Moby’s flowering so evocative of vegetables?


I can’t wait to see what it looks like when the spear-like tip unfolds. Will the flowers add another dozen feet in height, as shown in Shirley’s images of a flowering Agave ovatifolia a few years ago?


Moby’s bloom stalk doesn’t have much clearance left, not with live oak limbs only 12 feet up. Still, where there’s a whale, there’s a way. Perhaps Moby knows what he’s doing.


Many other succulents in my garden, like this trio of soap aloes (A. maculata), are sending up their own bloom stalks in solidarity. There’s also a tall, leaning ‘Chocolate Chips’ manfreda flower spike above the aloes’. Can you see it? And there’s Moby in the distance.


Here’s a better view from the other direction. The manfreda is growing in a container placed in the raised bed along the back of the house, so you walk under all those Dr. Seussian flowers as you pass by.


Honeybees love the aloe flowers and scooch right up those dangling coral tubes to collect pollen. Every time I walk by, I enjoy a close-up view of their work, which never worries me. They’re far too busy to bother with me.


Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis) is flowering atop its own long stems, attracting butterflies.


I can’t overlook these shorter bloom spikes coming up on a potted aloe (at bottom) on the back steps. Purple oxalis (Oxalis triangularis), spikeless, is flowering with abandon too.


In the gravel garden out front, ‘Frazzle Dazzle’ dyckia (Dyckia choristaminea ‘Frazzle Dazzle’), a native of Brazil, has sent up multiple spikes of golden flowers. The deer usually find these and chomp them down, so I’m enjoying them while I can.


This is one of my favorite dyckias, totally hardy here in Austin’s zone 8b, drought tolerant, not lethally sharp like many dyckias, and with a cute, tribble-like appearance.


That’s my garden happenings! By the way, if you live in or near Austin, I hope you’ll make time to come see me at Hill Country Water Gardens tomorrow at noon for a short garden talk and booksigning afterward — part of the many happenings during the nursery’s Lily Blossom Festival. See News and Upcoming Events below for more details.

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

I’ll be speaking on April 30, noon-12:30 pm, in Cedar Park, Texas, at Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery’s Lily Blossom Festival. My free talk is called “How to Garden Water-Wise, Not Water-Wasteful.” An old proverb reminds us that The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives. Don’t be a water-guzzling frog! I’ll be sharing my tips for making a garden that is water-wise, not water-wasteful. Stick around after my talk for a book signing, with autographed copies of Lawn Gone! and The Water-Saving Garden available for purchase.

Come see me at Festival of Flowers in San Antonio, May 28, time TBA. Learn more about water-saving gardening during my presentation at San Antonio’s 19th annual Festival of Flowers. I’ll be at the book-signing table after the talk, with copies of both The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! available for purchase. Tickets to the all-day festival, which includes a plant sale and exchange, speakers, and a flower show, are available at the door: $6 adults; children under 10 free. Free parking.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Moby death vigil and other flowerings


In case you don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram, where I’ve been posting pictures since last Wednesday, when I first noticed it, I must break the news to you: Moby is dying. Moby is my beloved whale’s tongue agave (A. ovatifolia) and the most iconic plant in my garden.


No, not Moby! Avert your eyes from the horror, Cosmo.


How do I know? Moby is getting ready to flower, in the most magnificent way possible. See that bloom spike, like a Jack-and-the-beanstalk-sized asparagus spear? It’s growing about 5 or 6 inches per day, and where it’ll top out is anybody’s guess. (Feel free to start wagering!) At the end of its life span — Moby has lived 10 years in my gardens — an agave pours all of its energy into a single extraordinary flower spike, and then it dies. You can’t cheat Mother Nature and save an agave by lopping off the bloom spike. All you can do is accept that it’s going out in a blaze of glory and enjoy the show. I’ll share a daily pic on Facebook over the next month or so, if you want to follow along.


Less traumatic flowerings are also happening, like this magenta ice plant (Delosperma cooperi).


Lovely against the blue stucco wall


And the spuria iris are blooming, about 2 or 3 weeks earlier than usual.


The burnt gold coloring is unusual and pretty.


I especially like them with variegated dianella’s strappy leaves.


More


Speaking of dianella, it’s flowering too but with more subtlety.


The paleleaf yucca (Y. pallida) in the purple pot is sending up a bloom spike. Loropetalum ‘Sizzling Pink’ has already finished blooming, but with foliage that colorful, who needs flowers?


Not blooming, but looking mighty fine nonetheless, is this toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) in a steel-pipe planter in my entry garden. It’s like a green fiber-optic lamp.


Yesterday I mucked out the stock-tank pond and divided all my pond plants. It’s a tiring and messy job, but it’s a once-a-year chore that pays off in a beautiful pond all the way through fall. If you look closely, you’ll see there’s a single ‘Colorado’ waterlily blooming already. And in the background, frilly orange pomegranate flowers are visible.

How about in your garden? Anything exciting happening?

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Wildflower season, owlets, and native plant sale at Wildflower Center


When the universe offers a weekend of perfect weather, don’t squander it. Central Texans, if you’re looking for something to do outside this weekend, head on over to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Their spring native-plant sale is being held both Saturday and Sunday, so you can shop for treasures for your garden. Plus you’ll see plenty of wildflowers and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the great horned owl chicks in the entry garden.


I dropped in for a quick visit on Thursday morning and found the meadows of spring wildflowers — the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush — transitioning to summery yellows.


Prickly pear and Engelmann’s daisy (I think)


The bluebonnets may be past peak, but they’re still pretty, and you should find plenty to enjoy.


The main reason I went, however, was for the great horned owlets. Every year a great horned owl nests behind a sotol planted high in a wall niche in the entry garden. I missed mama owl on this visit, but I did get a good look at one of the two fuzzy chicks. And it got a good look at me too.


A guy taking pictures told me he saw mama owl deliver breakfast earlier that morning — a dark-feathered bird, probably a grackle or pigeon. Now and then, as I watched, they seemed to tear at what remained of the carcass.


The pond garden offers attractions other than owls, of course. Like this gorgeous magenta iris.


And ruffly purple irises by the spillway in the wall.


Kids are always drawn to water, and these young visitors were no exception.


In a sunny meadow, pink penstemons stood erect among spring-green grasses and a Lindheimer muhly just putting out new growth.


Fly your pink flags, penstemon!


A quick glance at the spiraling cistern tower in the main courtyard


Columbines with their comet tails, held aloft on delicate stems


More penstemon, with a patch of bluebonnets in the background


Along the shady Hill Country stream, a dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) seems to lift a hand in greeting.


Pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) and Texas bluebonnets in stock-tank planters lean together for an embrace in the central Display Garden. These were pretty, but I have to say I thought this area looked a little unloved. A stock-tank pond was listing to one side, and many of the beds seemed a bit paltry. But then again, the Display Garden has never been my favorite part of the gardens. I keep hoping something great will go in here one day.


Aside from that one complaint, I enjoyed my visit and the wildflowers, and I encourage you to put aside your weekend to-do list and get on out there to enjoy it too.

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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