my, how they grow

Looking at the front fence, in back of which, planted along the sidewalk, is a row of box hedging, now over 7 feet tall. Height restrictions of course limit privacy options for fences along the sidewalk, but as far as augmenting fence height with hedges, the sky’s the limit. At least that’s my interpretation of city fence height ordinances. Knock wood, no code enforcement complaints so far. Sounds and tantalizing scents of Labor Day festivities wafted over the hedge all weekend. The local Cambodian temple in particular was in full swing. Just the tops of the heads of tall boys on skateboards whizzing by, sometimes being pulled by their dogs, can be seen over the hedges now. If, like Ein, you are inclined to see some street action, the front porch still affords prime views. Ein’s little corgi heart beats fast for boys on skateboards, so imagine the palpitations when dogs are pulling those boys on skateboards.


Looking the other way, the box hedge blocks this view into the back garden. Total privacy has been achieved here, (she said, barely concealing a smug note of triumph). Agave ‘Mr. Ripple’ has sentry duty along the pathway to the east gate, which is in a local shop being repaired at the moment. He’s been repelling the soccer balls that have been sailing over the dwarf olive hedges all summer from the east boundary. Gardens are an awful lot about boundaries, aren’t they?


The dwarf olives on the east boundary, ‘Little Ollie’s, are over 5 feet in height now, growing much faster than I hoped for, but the height is most welcome. Growth of hedges is easy to handle, and the dwarf olives should max out at around 6 feet. As far as the other plants, growth can be a bit more problematic. Mr. Ripple, for instance, grabbed the hem of my neighbor’s dress yesterday. And now I’m clipping and shaping the olives around him. ‘Mr. Ripple’ seems to have had a fair-sized growth spurt this summer. He hopefully has achieved his maximum height at about 4 feet but may still grow wider. The Agave potatorum to his left is about a foot in diameter.


August was a month of cutting back, moving, thinning, all the predictable outcome of a zeal for plants that knows no bounds. The agave ‘Jaws’ was moved last week too, which was terrifying, like defusing a bomb, but it did go smoothly.


But what a thorny dilemma: Save Mr. Ripple or the dwarf olive privacy hedge? I’ll defer that decision for now. I’d rather think about my lovely new variegated (thornless) beschornaria, predicted height and width between 4 to 6 feet. I wonder how big it will really get?


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12 Responses to my, how they grow

  1. Jason says:

    Is ‘Mr. Ripple’ really the name of the cultivar or just your private nickname? Either way, he is most impressive.

  2. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I vote for saving the amazing Mr. Ripple. Totally subjective, of course as we can grow olives here pretty well but large agaves like Mr. R. are few and far between.

  3. ks says:

    Bigger than you want it to, that’s my prediction.

  4. Sue says:

    Holy Agave Batman! By all means, save Mr. Ripple!

  5. Deanne says:

    How beautiful!!!!! absolutely savfe Mr. Ripple, it’s wonderful

  6. Plant Stands says:

    That is one amazing agave! I think it would be very sad to see it go.

  7. Mr. Ripple, is worthy and wonderful but not exactly “hedge” material, is he? I would be hard pressed to decide between the two alternatives. I love olives and I’m a privacy freak, too, but Mr. Ripple is such a marvelously statuesque agave. Hmmm.

  8. Denise says:

    @Jason, yes! that’s really his name. He’s thought to be a cross between Agave salmiana and protoamericana.
    @Peter, I did some more pruning of the olives today. Turns out there was quite a bit of scale on the interior branches, so pruning and giving more air circulation was good for the olives. Win/win!
    @Kathy, ain’t it the truth!
    @Sue & Deanne, he’s a keeper. The olives needed a bit more pruning anyway.
    @Plant Stands, I can barely stand to trim off the lower leaves, much less contemplate his complete removal!
    @Jane, there are so many concerns to balance, aren’t there? Hedges are an important, long-term investment. And who knows when Mr. Ripple will flower? Could be next year. I do appreciate the input. I took the middle ground today and trimmed the olives back fairly hard. Lots more of Mr. Ripple to see now.

  9. Michelle says:

    Wow,that is some agave. It makes quite a statement.

  10. Hoov says:

    We Californians seem very concerned with our privacy. I was dumbfounded visiting suburbs near Chicago with not a fence or hedge for miles. Your garden looks lovely.

  11. Denise says:

    @Michelle, so true, if there’s space to let one grow.
    @Hoov, interesting about Chicago. And there’s not a lot of front-yard fences in the posher neighborhoods around here — that’s very frowned upon. But I remember when some English friends visited and were astounded by neighborhoods with no hedges or fencing in the front, so the practice really varies. We’ve always had kids and/or dogs to fence in and keep safe from a very fast, busy street. One cat was not so fortunate! It’s taken about 15 years for the box to reach this height.

  12. Pam/Digging says:

    I’m in love with Mr. Ripple, and he looks smashing in front of the silvery green olives. Hope you can save both. I laughed out loud over your description of moving ‘Jaws.’ I have one too, and yes, moving it would be dicey.

    Hoov’s comment reminds me that in S. Carolina, where I grew up, fences were uncommon as well, though lot sizes were very large, providing some measure of privacy from size alone. When I moved west to Austin I was put off by all the wooden privacy fences. But of course now I can’t imagine not having a fence.

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