Monday, July 27, 2009

Lazy Days

Maybe that should read lazy daze! I’ve been enjoying the lazy days of summer to the extreme; puttering in the garden (plenty of weeding and deadheading to do), hiking in the foothills, cruising around the neighborhood on my bike, sitting on the patio in the evenings and knitting while I listen to the Rockies games on the radio, and generally reveling in our lovely summer weather. Cooler temperatures and more rain than usual have made it a joy to be outdoors!

My garden was spared last week when a horrific hail and wind storm scoured the west side of the Denver metro area. The damage is amazing to see; trees not blown over lost limbs or were stripped of their foliage, smaller shrubs and plantings were beat to a pulp. Once the clean-up phase is completed it’s really best to just sit back and let nature take its course. Plants with established root systems may spring right back with new leaves and fresh growth; others may shut down for the season but resume normal growth patterns next year. (Now is NOT the time to fertilize; trying to stimulate plants that are stressed and in shock is not only a waste of money but may be detrimental to the plants themselves.) It will be really interesting to see how it all plays out. Please keep me posted on your garden’s recovery!

mariposa lily, Calochortus sp., photographed at Red Feather Lakes, July 18, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meet. . . Agave!

Also known as century plants, the agaves are wonderfully sculptural succulents that can be used as accent plants or in small groupings. I love the large, slightly sculpted leaves and their cool blue color. These plants are few and far between in the Denver area, although there are at least two cold hardy species grown here that I’m aware of. These photos are of a neighbor’s Agave parryi, Parry’s century plant, which gets about 18”x18” in size and suckers readily (these suckers are called “pups," though they're not soft and cuddly!).

It’s now blooming, and the stalk is about 12’tall! The plants are located in a dry, south facing exposure that gets plenty of heat. These plants are rated for zones 4-10.

Another species that is sold locally is Agave havardiana, Harvard’s century plant (sorry, no photo). It is not as hardy, only to zone 5, so it should definitely be planted near boulders, walls, or other heat absorbing and radiating hardscape features. Well drained soil is a must. This agave is very similar in appearance to the Parry’s, but twice as big! This 3’x3’ monster would be a fantastic specimen and focal point for a warm, protected courtyard garden.

So, if you’re feeling adventuresome, check out Agave.