Tag Archives: agave plant


We have a very kooky, wonderful old friend I shall call Madame A. Let me be precise: she’s not all that wonderful to everyone — there are many, in fact, who will refer to her only as “that awful woman” —  but she’s always been lovely with us. For five years she was our upstairs neighbor in Silverlake. Over that time we became extremely close. Madame A is elderly, eccentric, and incredibly cantankerous, but she is also marvellously intelligent, quite funny, and absurdly creative. She is — among other things — a painter, an opera expert, a poet, a docent at two local museums, a six-day-a-week swimmer, and a prodigiously talented — you guessed it! — gardener.

When we moved to our new home we were saddened indeed to leave our friend behind. I hoped, though, that as we were not far away from each other, she would visit us often. Maybe she would even become a gardening mentor to me? After a series of events, however, led to an estrangement between us, I sadly let go of that idea. But now — Christmas miracle!  — the estrangement has ended (I don’t know how — we never really understood what had caused it in the first place) and our old friend is back in our lives. She hasn’t been over here yet (her driving is terrifying, so I’m just as happy to spare the world her presence on the roads) but she promises she will. In the meantime, MJ and I have just come from her house, where we were the recipients of a bounty of horticultural generosity.

The fact that I don't have yucca leaves protruding from my retinas as we speak is due solely to luck, an extremely vigilant right arm, and sunglasses.

We pulled into our driveway with literally a carful of plants to unload. Everything Arlene gave us she either found thrown away after the recent storms, (“you wouldn’t believe what people kick to the curb, dear”) or wrenched from the soil of her own garden (“succulents are so hardy — they’ll never notice”). It’s a couple hundred dollars worth of flora, all in great health, and it’ll be amazing when planted. I now have so much more incentive to get that damn terrace cleared…

Another Agave Americana, and a bunch of Crassulae (sp?)

A long-coveted Blue Agave -- "A perfect specimen," according to Madame A

random cactus

I hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful horticultural exchange. Provided I can stay on Madame A’s good side. Wish me luck.

A Start

A couple of days ago I went to Potted, a store in Atwater  Village I am now obsessed with. I was feeling despair at the enormity of my task, and, although I knew it wouldn’t buy me much, had a hundred dollar housewarming check from my in-laws that I wanted to spend. (They’re from Michigan, where that kind of money will basically buy you a new house.) I purchased the following, for $93.37:

One bag of cactus potting soil

Two large handmade clay pots (at 50% off)

One plastic runner from Mad Mats

With these I did this:

A Promising Entryway

I populated each pot with a clipping from our old home. It seemed fitting, to me, to start the garden with “something old and something new.” I suppose you could argue that there is something borrowed, too, as the agave pup was swiped from a field near our old residence. The Jade clipping came from our old patio — we left the plant itself behind. Because who gives a rat’s ass about jade plants, right?

Jade plant -- lame, but at least I know I can't kill it.

Agave. Or is it? I have no bloody idea.

(By the way, would one of you kind readers please tell me if I’m supposed to capitalize the names of plants? The grammar nazi in me is extremely disgusted at this ambiguity, and I’d rather hear it from you than look it up on line. Thanks.)

Anyway, it ain’t much, but it’s a start. As I walk up the steps and view my simple handiwork I can almost hear the paperwhites muttering “There’s a new sheriff in town. She’s clearly a hack.”

It’s true. There is. And I am. Sigh. As much as I want to be doing anything OTHER than being a fucking yard girl, though, this is what the deities have planned for me right now.

As long as I keep blogging about it maybe I’ll actually keep doing it. One terrace, one stump, one thorny bastard tree at a time.