Hortus Obsessus

Spring planting must be on just about everyone’s minds now, right? I shop at Annie’s Annuals all the time, fill my cyber basket to overflowing, then walk away from the computer. The walking away is pure character building.

At least that was my m.o. until local nurseries started stocking AA’s plants. Aaaagh…Now I routinely come home with such judiciously selected purchases as this Puya chilensis, armed to the teeth, destined to grow 15 feet wide, taking as much as 15 years to bloom.

Annie, have mercy!


A smaller Puya mirabillis would have been a much better choice for my tiny garden. But so hard to walk away when confronted with a plant in glorious leaf and spine, not just pixels. I’ve been longing for a new puya, these exotic but tough terrestrial bromeliads. A flourishing Puya alpestris planted not far from this P. chilensis, near a pathway edge, died last summer, never having bloomed. A mysterious death. I can still vividly recall that unique smell — the word putrefaction barely conveys the odor of its death throes. So my gravel garden may have some obscure anti-puya attitude. A soil pathogen? Too crowded? I pulled out a big swathe of the beautifully easy calandrinia for the new guy, whose mature size of 15 feet wide makes him more a contender for a botanical garden. Or maybe the hell strip? What a hellish thought — I couldn’t do that to my neighbors.

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5 Responses to Hortus Obsessus

  1. Grace says:

    Oh how innocent it looks, there all settled in to its new home. Please send Annie up here!!!

  2. Denise says:

    Grace, doesn’t it look harmless? Regarding Annie’s in the PNW, be careful what you wish for! (And thanks for the distinction between indigofera and lespedeza.)

  3. hoover says:

    15 years to bloom, eh? I’ve been wondering about mine. Only ten more years to go…

  4. Kathy says:

    I’m surrounded. 30minutes from Annies, work for a company for whom Annie is a vendor (ergo employee discount) catalog arrives like clockworks..I’m getting another one of those Asclepias this spring Denise..I won’t be defeated !

  5. Denise says:

    Hoov, you too? They are so beautiful in their little 4-inch pots.
    Kathy, no surrender!

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