The Daily MuseThe Agave Addict, Part

This photo, from the Spring of 2004, shows  the
largest of our Agave beds. Since this time we have removed the Bulbine (with the
orangey flowers) to open up the view of the Agaves and Hesperaloes. Agave
schidigera is planted into some holes in the large rock in the foreground.
This is another view of the same bed just a few months
later. (This photo was taken from our roof.) The Giant Hesperaloe and Yellor
Hespraloes are in full bloom.
This is Agave bovicornuta, ‘Cow’s Horn Agave.’ One of my
favorites, but borderline cold-hardy in our climate (Zone 8b. ) It is the
largest Agave in the bed pictured above. I have seen older specimens of this
plant get nearly five feet tall. Two winters ago it sustained some freeze damage
after an ice storm that dipped temperatures in the low twenties (-5 Centigrade)
and stayed below freezing for nearly two days.
A close-up of Agave bovicornuta showing the fearsome teeth
and beautiful leaf imprints.
The same plant in late summer of 2004.
This is Agave parryii, a very cold-hardy and compact 
plant that grows to be about two feet tall. I love the tight form of this one.
This plant is in the same bed pictured above. Behind it you see Agave schidigera,
frequently sold as Agave ‘Durango Delight.’
A close-up of the same Agave parryii under different
lighting conditions.
This is yet another plant from the same bed, Agave victoria
reginae, one of the most compact and cold-hardy of the Agaves. This plant is
only about six to eight inches tall. There are now several of these in our large
circular bed. I have seen pictues of these used in mass plantings and the effect
is very striking.
This shot was taken in early 2003 and shows the newly
planted ‘second circle’ of Agaves. The larger first circle is in the foreground.
(There are now four circular beds in this area all planted with Agaves and
related plants, see picture below.)
In June of 2003 we completed all four of our circular Agave
This is a close-up of the second circle showing Agave
lophantha in the upper left, Agave weberi in the upper right, and three Yucca
pallida in the foreground. The flower is Angelita Daisy, Hymenoxys acaulis. This
picture is from late 2003.
The same bed seen from our roof in the  Spring of 2004.
Late summer 2004. I now call this my “blue bed.” All of the
plants have grown dramatically and theAgave weberi is now the largest in our
Agave lophantha (2003. )This is a particularly glaucous, or
blue, version of this plant. Here in Austin, most of the lophanthas that you see
are much greener.
A close-up of Agave lophantha. I love the colors in this
shot! These close-up views are one of the reasons I am so crazy about Agaves,
from a distance they have striking architecure, up-close they look like works of
The third circle bed that we created features a very simple
planting with Agave bracteosa on the left, a gray leafed version of Agave
webberi in the center and Agave americana ‘Baby Blue’ on the right. This image
is of the just completed bed in June of 2003.
Less than one year later and the  same plants have
grown significantly.
A close-up of the newly planted Agave bracteosa or ‘Squid
Agave.’ This plant prefers light shade and pups out quite aggressively.
A close-up of the newly planted gray-leafed weberi. The
foliage of the weberi looks like ultra-suede. This plant can grow as tall as
six feet.
The ‘Baby Blue’ Agave americana. This is a compact form of
the familiar ‘Century Plant’ that most Austin area gardeners think of when they
think of Agaves. As you can see, this one has “pupped out” very nicely.
I purchased this plant locally at Barton Springs Nursery which propagated and
named this selection. This
image is from September 2004.
This is a small bed in our backyard and was the first of
our un-irrigated Agave beds. It is a small rectangular planting featuring a
hybrid Agave on the left (Agave havardiana x ?) and Agave schindigera on the
right. A Giant Red Yucca, Hesperaloe funifera,  is  at the
center-rear. 2002.
The same bed at the beginning of 2003. Rosemary is partly
obscuring the Agave schindigera. That is Banana Yucca, Yucca baccata, in the
white container.
A close-up of the hybrid Agave and Agave schindigera. The
hybrid was sold as havardiana but several Agave experts who have seen it feel
certain that it is a cross between havardiana and some other species. Agaves are
apparently notorious for casual inter-breeding. You can clearly see the
filaments or hairs of the Agave schindigera in this shot. It reminds me that
Agaves were often used by Native Americans for the fibers that could be
harvested from their dried leaves. These would be woven into ropes and for other
The Agave pictured here, in our “conversation room,” is
another hybrid. I think this one is a cross between Agave parryii and, I
believe, Agave neo-mexicana. It is shown planted with Lavender, Dianthus,
Bulbine, Bluebonnets and Thyme. Our conversation room is a raised bed that
surrounds a pair of benches that face one another. I consider it to be the very
heart of our garden.
A close-up of the hybrid Agave with Bulbine and Lavender.
Another detail  from our conversation room, picturing
two grassy looking plants – Nolina texana, or “Bear Grass,” on the left, and
Agave stricta on the right. The Nolina is actually a relative of the Agaves.
Agave stricta has round pencil-thin foliage with extremely sharp pointed tips.
It is also know as “Hedgehog Agave. ”  This is a compact form of stricta
called “La Duffa.” This plant may require some protection if the temperatures go
below 25 degrees fahrenheit. Last winter it had no problems with our very mild
cold season. It bloomed in 2004 sending up a beautiful seven foot flower spike
with orange blooms. Unlike many Agaves,  which collapse after blooming,
there were no adverse affects to this plant.
This is Yucca harrimaniae, or Harriman Yucca. A very
compact little plant that is only six inches tall. This is a native of the
desert Southwest and I fell in love with its tight form and and pronounced hairs
the moment I saw it. I am clueless as to how tall it will grow, so if you know,
please get in touch. It is planted at the entrance of our conversation room.
One of my favorite Agaves, and one of the most useful for
Central Texas gardens, this is Agave ferdinand-regis, now often commonly
referred to as “Shark Skin Agave.” (Also sold as Agave fernandi-regis.) This is
a very cold hardy plant with a great compact form. We have several planted in
both our front and back garden, this one is in the conversation room.
This is a form of Agave lophantha that a friend gave me.
Notice the slight undulation of the blades, very cool. It came from Yucca-do
Nursery and is listed as Agave lophantha caerula.
This is Agave desmettiana variegata, a cold sensitive form
that we move to shelter during the winter. Apparently, this is an “agricultural”
Agave and was selected by Meso-Americans as a crop plant. It is only found in
association with ruin sites in Mexico.
Agave americana ‘medio-picta.” Another tender plant here in
Austin. I am crazy about the bold varigation of this form.
I love the way these plants look when set against the blue
glaze of these Vietnamese pots.
This is an Agave weberi from a planting along the River
Walk in San Antonio.
An amazing Agave Weberi fron the garden of Austin landscape
designer, Nancy Webber (no relation!)
Agave Related Links
The Agaves Pages by Jan
Kolendo – from Great Britain, an excellent resource with hundreds of photographs
of Agaves in garden and natural settings.
The Agave Page – Part of
an extensive website by another British gardener, R.J. Hodgkiss.
Yuccas, and Related Plants – A Gardener’s Guide By Mary Irish and Gary
Irish, an excellent book for Agave enthusiasts.