'Quadricolor' Quandry

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' is spectacular in form and coloration, and grows without irrigation in full sun and broiling heat without burning, browning, or bleaching, but at the same time, it possesses one awful characteristic, which presents a quandary.

No like!
 It offsets like crazy.  The offsets rapidly form a chaotic mass of  biting teeth and stabbing terminal spines.  I started with one pleasing rosette, but ended with a maelstrom of at least one hundred offsets, each beautiful in itself, but together creating an effect which proved unbearable. 

Quandary:  many virtues, one major drawback.  
 I spent a day pulling out every single one of them.  They filled the space between the Limonium on the left and the Yucca 'Bright Star's on the right, and were invading the 'Bright Star's.  I pulled them all.  A small Agave parryi offset from the A. parryi truncata towards the top of the slope was surviving inside the mass of 'Quadricolors', and it got the space, with plenty of room to grow.  Agave parryi offsets, but in a polite and leisurely manner.  I left one lone 'Quadricolor' where it can be more easily de-offset, and it will be.  

Also in Agaves, though not a quandary at all,  looking down on the 'Blue Glow' bloom stems, I noticed additional bulbils on one of them.  'Blue Glow' does not offset, or if it is the rare plant that does, it produces only one or two, so bulbils are desirable.
Going around to the bottom of the slope and climbing up, I could not reach the ones visible from the top of the slope, but it became apparent that there were plentiful bulbils hidden inside the mess of branches:
A quick and incomplete search yielded these:
Yeeesss!  The only real quandary about 'Blue Glow' is that they are so in demand here a one gallon plant is going for $30 these days.   

Another quandary besides Quadricolor on the front slope.  I've long wanted it to look less random and more intentional, or "designed", and haven't had any ideas on how to do that.
 Considering it yesterday, it seemed that edging the whole thing with a wide border of blue Senecio mandraliscae (indicated by black lines), would be a good start to a more unified look. 

Unfortunately that Senecio, like 'Quadricolor', is another very aggressive grower, and making a wide border of it would involve a lot of maintenance and massive amounts of green waste.  There is also a time of year (late summer/early autumn) when S. mandraliscae looks dreadful.  So, another quandary.   What would provide unified edging, without the Senecio's drawbacks?   Dymondia would need irrigation.  Calylophus looks horrid in the winter time.  Oscularia can't take the heat.  The blue Senecio sure is pretty in winter and spring...but a better solution is needed.

Here's another quandary, rather typical in a garden.  That Coprosma 'Pacific Sunrise' really needs to be elsewhere.  It doesn't work here.  My bad.  But it's happy and healthy.  A move could kill it.  Doesn't seem fair to move a healthy, happy plant, so there it grows, looking out of place.  
Gardener's problems really are not so bad in the larger scheme of things, and there are so many comforts and delights to balance out the quandaries and the dirt that gets into your shoes and grinds into your socks.    

A comfort and a delight,  white, purple, and a touch of lavender-blue:  'Iceberg' rose, 'Amistad' Salvia, 'Perle d'Azur' Clematis:
Leucadendron 'Pom Pom' is a refined version of 'Cloudbank Ginny'.  The stems are vertical instead of loopy.  Ah, yes!
'Home Run' Rose
New roses 'Apricots and Cream' and 'Top Gun' (which is very much like 'Home Run'):


This "Dutch" Iris was packaged and sold as 'Mauve Queen', and it's not.  It's not even a "Dutch" Iris.  What is it, anyway?  
Does it matter that much?  Well, no.  It still is balm to soothe the soul.

Comments

  1. Ahh to have Quadricolor do so well that it becomes a nuisance....mind you I feel the same for good old Agave Americana, I still love it but wished it didn't offset so aggressively. Surprised how much Blue Glow is still in demand there that supply is not enough to keep the price reasonable.

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    1. Agave @mericana is a dreadful weedy thing here, surprised it offsets so much in your climate. In the Pacific northwest it seems well behaved. I'm seeing BG used in commercial landscapes here, several hundred at a time. That cuts into supply for retail nurseries!

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  2. Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' is a gorgeous thing but even in pots, it offsets like crazy. I just de-offsetted mine and will have lots to give away. Your garden sure has a lot of delights to counter the quandaries! Love the idea of Senecio edging your whole front border. Not many plants look great all the time and that extra vegetative waste can be composted.

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    1. I'll have to try composting some. Here in our dry dry climate, compost is a very slow process.

      Maybe issue a warning with those Quadricolor giveaways!

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  3. There's something appealingly magnolia-like about the blooms of Leucadendron 'Pom Pom' . How big will the plant get?

    The Coprosma doesn't look out of place, really, but we're not seeing the full context of your vision for that part of the garden. It definitely glows with health, and the daisies set it off nicely. Maybe a color echo further along would do the trick?

    Denise might have some good suggestions for your edging groundcover. I love what's there now. Re: the green waste issue -- Does the Senecio not compost well? Its exuberance means you wouldn't have to spend anything to extend the unifying effect, but OTOH the cost in future labor could easily make that a false economy.

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    1. Pom Pom said to be 6-8' tall x 4-5' wide. Mine is kept pretty dry so it's been slow. It does create a Magnolia-like impression with those creamy bracts. Maybe that's why I like it.

      Actually had more than one Coprosma to try to create that color echo and it didn't quite work. I have a small rose in a hot dry spot, might move the rose there and try the Coprosma elsewhere.

      I'll try composting some Senecio to see how it does. Compost is very slow here. Too dry. It's also very very very heavy--a five gallon bucket of stems is as heavy as a five gallon bucket of water.

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  4. Not being familiar with what grows well for you in your climate, I don't have any suggestions for plans, but my approach for unification has always been to repeat major plants, rather than ground covers. I don't know how doable that is for you either. I wonder if Quadricolor offsets in pots. I'd love to have more of mine.

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    1. You will get more Quadricolors. Many more. Too many more. Just looking at the photo, that was my initial impression re the groundcover. The big Agave marmorata is about to bloom, and there are five other Agaves blooming out, which will leave a huge space, so time for some reworking.

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    2. Must be something in the air -- I just tackled my Quads a couple days ago, leaving one enormous rosette. Might get a post up on it. At the other end of the spectrum from S. mandral. is slooow Senecio serpens. I'm sure you've considered it. Once it gets going it's pretty good. Maybe one of the cotyledons or even 'Fred Ives' for massing? The golden Sedum nussbaum. masses well and looks great with the bluish agaves. Maybe even some massed ribbons of Aloe striata? Or you could even have some Burle Marx fun with ribbons of pea gravel through the plantings, unless the slope is too steep. 'Pom Pom' is lovely!

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    3. I was pondering Sedum nussbaumerianum, matter of fact. It can take heat. I think I'll try some and see how it does. 'Fred I.' found it too hot out there. Thought about stones, but then Wilma Flintstone's necklace came to mind. S. serpens likes afternoon shade here. My patch of it has been very very slow.

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  5. Your front slope doesn't look intentional or designed? You could have fooled me. It's one of the most beautiful front gardens I've ever seen! Regarding the blue Senecio, doesn't the city pick up green waste? Do you have to compost all on site?

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    1. It looks intentional and not PBG (Personal Botanic Garden)?!?!

      The green waste is picked up, yes, but it goes into a landfill as the "cover" for the day's other trash. So, it goes into a landfill. I've reduced green waste by a lot, but would like to go farther.

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  6. How long did it take for your 'Quadricolor' to get out of control like that? I ask as I've got 3 in a relatively small area. They've produced some pups but not many. Mine went in the ground as small (4-inch pot) plants late in 2015 and they remain relatively small. As to the 'Blue Glow' bulbils, congratulations! I like the idea of blue Senecio edging the front border.

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    1. It took a while, 8 years maybe, but the out of control part really happened after about year 4. Before that, the original rosette sat for quite a long time. It's very very dry in that spot.

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    2. Okay, I looked it up (blogs are handy that way). 'Quadricolor' was planted in 2011.

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  7. Senecio serpens perhaps ? It seems to have a more refined habit but I'm not sure how it feels about the exposure. I have made space for another Leucodendron and 'pom-pom' is on the short list. Your photo absolutely brings out it's charms !

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    1. Serpens can't take the heat out there. Tried and failed. 'Pom Pom' is a charmer, alright!

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  8. I use Plectranthus neochilus as an enthusiastic groundcover. Beginning to feel as if I have laid carpet runners of it. What I hack off I dump as 'mulch' behind the shrubs. I need to dedicate a few days to removing the swathe that eats the path.

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