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.
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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.

Aloe from the other siiiiiide


With apologies to Adele and her earworm of a song, aloes are still saying hello in my garden this mild winter with spring-like flowering.


I find their leaves equally eye-catching, with white spots reminiscent of disco-ball light effects.


Believe it or not, this is the same aloe (A. maculata), but it appears to have a Coppertone tan. Why? It’s been cold-stressed. Many succulents change color when they experience stress from cold or drought. Because it’s planted in a shallow dish container, this aloe has gotten a good deal colder this winter than the one pictured above, and its leaves reflect that. I think it’s pretty.


Also showing off right now are the abutilons.


This unnamed pink one — my last survivor of three over the years — is blooming well, with more buds ready to pop.


At its feet, native heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) carpets the ground with its blue-green leaves — its winter incarnation. Come spring, spires of lavender flowers appear, and then it’ll go dormant for the summer. In the culvert-pipe planters, squid agave (A. bracteosa) offers fountain-like form and dependable, cold-hardy winter interest.


As do the ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods. A pair of them guards each of the four “doorways” into the circular pond garden.


And one more abutilon to end with: ‘Marilyn’s Choice’, glowing in the fading light of last evening.

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Upcoming Events and News

Look for me on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

Hold the Hose! Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

Have you watched my zippy new book trailer?

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

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