Tag Archives: Agave victoriae-reginae

CMU bench/planter at Manaow

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I finally found a moment when Manaow’s CMU bench/planter could be investigated minus the usual throngs of people.
That window of quiet was around 7 a.m. in the morning, when the only activity at this east end of Broadway was the Laundromat next-door opening for business.
I discovered this clever incursion into the parking lot when Mitch and Jessica took me out to breakfast at the The Potholder a couple doors down.
As can be seen from the parking grid and stripes, this Thai restaurant hacked the parking lot for some outdoor dining and came up with a strong graphic design to define the area.

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A hack within a hack. As far as I know, the credit for the original CMU planter hack goes to Annette Gutierrez of Potted.
The humble concrete masonry unit’s stackable, Lego-like potential has since been exploited over and over in seemingly endless planter configurations.
There hasn’t been this much fun with concrete since Frank Lloyd Wright played with the stuff.

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The bench is why I found this one so intriguing.
I’ve been mulling this over and haven’t decided if/where to build a bench of my own.

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The relative permanence and lack of mobility make it a poor fit for me, a chronic shuffler of objects.

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Marty is so ready to start in on this project.

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And the fat and happy succulents are really selling it.

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Have you noticed the unusual placement of the pavers? Gravel-filled space between the pavers gradually widens at the table and chairs area.
(Table and chairs had been brought inside overnight.)

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And then the gap closes on the pavers in front of the entrance.

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Although we haven’t decided to build it yet, this little project’s influence is already being felt.
I knew exactly what container I wanted for the Queen Victoria agave I rescued from the tree litter of the front garden.
It’s not CMU, but a concrete/fibeglass formulation, a kind of CMU lookalike, a hack of a hack…

better know an agave

A rogue’s gallery of agaves from Jud’s garden. Some of these I know, some I’m guessing at, and some have really stumped me.
If you have an idea, I’m all ears.

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Agave potatorum?

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With Agave macroacantha in the background

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Agave macroacantha

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Agave macroacantha, possibly a selection of Agave titanota in the foreground (Agave horrida?)

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This looks more like the Agave titanota I know.

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Agave ferdinandi-regis

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Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’

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And Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’ with the anchor plant, Colletia paradoxa

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Agave lophantha

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with Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’

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Agave shawii?

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with Agave havardiana in the background.

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Definitely Agave havardiana (see comments for ID discussion)

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Agave americana var. medio-picta ‘Alba’

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Mark commented on the first post back in 2012 identifying this agave as A. isthmensis

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Agave parrasana, the Cabbage Head Agave, also ID’d by Mark in the 2012 post

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Agave victoriae-reginae

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Agave celsii ‘Nova’? Or plain old Agave parryi minus the truncata?

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Agave schidigera

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Agave celsii ‘Multicolor’

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Agave bovicornuta in the foreground

succulents in spring

Prowling around the garden yesterday with this or that new plant in one hand, spade in the other, looking for planting opportunities where I already knew none existed, it seemed more constructive to put the spade down and pick up the camera. This small group of succulents right outside the kitchen door may be overgrown and out of shape by the end of summer, or changed up on a whim, so a spring portrait seems like a good idea at the moment.

The tall green pot holds a young Agave americana var. striata. I’ve been told never to select green ceramic pots, any color but green, since it will only blend into the background. Sometimes blending into the background is the point, though. Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ leans in, with Cotyledon orbiculata, the latter two planted in the garden. The thin red tips on the cotyledon just slay me.

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Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ is recovering from a winter of snail depredation. The snails mercifully eat mostly the older leaves lower down on the stems.
Last year Solanum marginatum grew here and was a small tree by the end of summer.

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This photo was taken on a different day, after an early morning fog.
I love that loosely incurved rosette shape that this hybrid inherits from Aeonium undulatum.
‘Cyclops’ is potentially a giant that may very soon become much too large for this small corner.

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This baby Agave victoriae-reginae was growing in the ground but became engulfed by surrounding plants, was rediscovered, rescued, and given a safe haven in a small pot atop a larger container. Small agaves can become engulfed and forgotten when one too frequently prowls the garden with a new plant in one hand and a spade in the other. Froth of lime green Sedum confusum on the right.

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Backing up a bit to include Aeonium balsamiferum, spilling out of a smaller pot.
I like the echo of pot rims and rings from this angle and the tension of containment and surge.
Sliver of a trunk on the left is a 6-foot Manihot grahamii also growing in this pot, its canopy an increasingly receding tuft of leaves as the maturing trunk twists and elongates. The yellow flowers are from the bulging Sedum confusum.

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Back further still. What a happy community they’ve made for themselves, for this brief moment in spring anyway. Self-sown bronzy Haloragis erecta threads around the pots, always choosing to seed at the garden edges.

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We’ve been pushing ourselves to take long walks, sometimes early morning, sometimes early evening, as much as 4 miles, mostly through Long Beach’s old downtown, which has seen many of its older buildings become frozen mid loft conversion. (Probably too many.) I never need encouragement to take a long walk, but I do need strong motivation as far as where to walk. The rules are no car can be involved, and the walk must begin straight out the front door, which necessitates passing through some mundane neighborhood streets I know all too well. In the evening, the carrot can be a movie (Hugo was wonderful! Who knew Scorcese was such a softie?!) or in the early morning, a cup of coffee.

Once the neighborhood is a mile or so behind, the sidewalks widen, and the view gets increasingly more interesting. The East Village has some beautiful old buildings, like The Broadlind Hotel, photo found here.


I did some holiday shopping on 4th Street’s “Retro Row,” which was a painful exercise in self-denial. A couple shops have exquisite mid century modern pieces. Image found here.


Rating right up there with garden travel has always been an irresistible desire to walk some of the world’s great cities, and I have hiked through a few but not nearly as many as I ‘d like. The pace of incoming stimuli, details, the places a car can’t go, the unraveling of mental knots, the swing and rhythm, the layers of history read in a building’s facade, a good walk can be as sublime an experience as any.

On foot the eye can hone in on details, like the inflorescence topping a 5-foot-plus bloom stalk of Agave desmettiana, a row of them in bloom in front of the architects’ studio next to Lyon Art Supply.



But day in, day out, you can only walk the neighborhood you’ve got. And this is Los Angeles County after all, not known for well-designed, walkable spaces. I don’t mind scruffy, recessionary cities with a few teeth (windows) missing, just boring lengths of asphalt and concrete and vast intersections designed for cars, so Long Beach’s older downtown, though small, is usually our destination, where the scale feels just right.

Brugmansia engulfing a porch. Agave victoriae-reginae from the Museum of Latin American Art.


The mosaics of St. Anthony’s Church, the oldest church in Long Beach. This version was rebuilt after the 1933 earthquake. Mosaics imported from Italy.


Always an adventure, as easy as one foot in front of the other.

Some Agaves and Aloes

From a recent visit to the Huntington Desert Garden. I was quite excited to see the blue-leaved form of Agave attenuata. There’s some discussion on the nomenclature of this foxtail agave from San Marcos Growers, which indicates there’s varieties with differing degrees of blueness, but this one would fulfill all my blue needs. No visible label in the garden, but this colony of foxtail agaves would seem to be the ‘Huntington Blue’ San Marcos refers to.


Agave schidigera ‘Durango Delight’



An Agave victoriae-reginae before bloom.


And another after.


I was most interested this visit in checking out moderate-sized aloes that grow in a single stemless rosette. Hopefully, the photos and identification notes correspond correctly.

Aloe aculeata, South Africa, zone 9-10.



Aloe berhana, Ethiopia.


Aloe chabaudii.


Blooms of Aloe sinkatana, described by the HBG as “one of the most useful small landscape aloes.”


(There are currently multiple threads posted this November on the GardenWeb Cacti & Succulents forum like this one and this one, photodocumenting a single astounding collection of aloes that will be a great reference for identification purposes. Really worth a look.)