As the old song says “you are sure of a big surprise”! No not the Teddy Bear’s Picnic. I’ve cut back the giant Agave Americana. This Agave is a vicious brute with long fronds over 8ft and each frond carries rows of sharp serrated teeth along its edges. Apart from that it is a lovely plant – but only to view from a distance. Anyway, I have 4 of these brutes at the top of the stairs leading down to my Wild Wood and I’ve been tackling them.
10th August: Things I have been doing lately.
🔪 Cutting back Agave Americana. As mentioned above this vicious but lovely statuesque plant needs to be cut back every 2/3 years otherwise its fronds droop and are in danger of ensnaring passers by. In case you forget what they look like the photo below shows my plants prior to the big cutback.
Cutting back these plants needs to be organised carefully. You need the correct tools and the correct clothing. You can saw through the fronds with a handsaw, but it is much quicker with a chainsaw. You will also need a hedge trimmer to cutback the foliage of other plants that will impede your access to the Agave. Finally you need to cover up every visible part of your body. I wore a track suit tucked into my socks, my long sleeve, padded winter gardening shirt a hat and eye protectors. Yes, I did look ridiculous especially as the temperature was 37 degrees.
The first photo shows my lovely trimmed Agaves, the second shows the assembled tools and finally the spoils of war. I will leave the fronds to dry out for a few days before moving them as they are very heavy.
🌱 Feeding the lawn. Now if you have grass you really need to feed it three times during the Summer: once in Spring, again in high Summer and later at the beginning of Autumn. I use a high nitrogen feed and utilise a spreader which stops me overdosing the lawn. From the photograph below you can see that this particular lawn is somewhat patchy, but I have all my preparations ready for a partial reseed on the worse areas in the Autumn. More later.
🌞 Drying out Figs. Those of you with Fig trees should by now be in the middle of full harvest. The best thing to do here is to pick the ripening Figs each morning, eat what you can (which in our case is lots) then dry the rest in the Sun (this does not apply to the U.K.).
First take your Figs, half them in two, place them on a mesh grill and then place them out in the Sun under a suitable protective cover. I recommend that you take them in at night as a heavy dew could spoil them or ants could find them. The photos below show my world famous Fig drying process. Overall it should take 3/4 days and they can then be stored in the fridge or freezer.
4 thoughts on “If you go down to the wood today…”
It must be fantastic to spend your working life involved in something you love – like plants. I spent my working life as a Management Consultant and Senior Partner of a Consultancy. When I could get into my garden at weekends it invariably rained. I have spent many a happy weekend sitting in my greenhouse looking out at the rain and listening to the radio whilst I pottered around. No wonder I moved to Spain when I retired.
Gads! Those agaves are not easy to work with. I so hate when so-called gardeners cut the fronds in half! Do you remember Ricardo Montalban? His former house had herds of them that needed to be removed! We split them and used them on other landscapes, but it was not fun!
You get to work in all the best places.
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Best? I have not been to Spain. Working in Southern California (mostly around the western Los Angeles region) if fun, but I prefer to work here in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County, and would like to work more in other climates. I prefer how landscapes in other regions are expected to last a long time. Those old agaves at Ricardo Montalban’s former home were an excellent choice, but should have been maintained better, rather than removed because they were neglected or so long. They lasted for many decades, but had to go. Many landscapes in Southern California do not last more than a decade. It is so wasteful. Even here, one or our clients was using tens of thousands of dollars worth of big rhododendrons as annuals. They got installed just prior to bloom, and then discarded after bloom. We stopped selling to him because we found the practice to be too objectionable.
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