Sunday, September 15, 2013

Desertification, Part 1

What started out as a small hill of sand is starting to become its own bioclimatic zone.  I initially never even imagined this spot as being an ideal agave-growing area, but it has proven to receive copious amounts of sun, is bathed in extra heat radiation from the road, and is protected from overhead precipitation from a mature deodar cedar.

Building a berm with 1500 pounds of sand mixed in will help make this as ideal of a desert as it's going to be in a city famous for its rainfall.

Lifting these 100-pound bags is sure doing wonders for my abs!

I cleared away the wild strawberry groundcover, transplanted a rhododendron and witch hazel to a more hospitable place, and removed the rich organic layer of soil, which will be used later to mix back in with the sand.  Wells-Medina nursery had a very impressive selection of hardy agaves and a few other plants at very reasonable prices ($7 for the smaller ones).  I apologized to them for ruining their display.

Here are their names.  Out of the box, starting on the left:

Agave 'Blue Glow'
Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue'
Brahea armata (Mexican blue palm)
Abies koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke' (To be planted somewhere else)
Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw'
Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies'

In the box, clockwise starting from the back left:

Agave ocahui
Hebe ‘Hinerua’ (A Great Plant Pick)
Agave 'Mr. Ripple'
Agave x gracilis
Agave utahensis
Agave bracteosa 'Calamar'

Below is progress being made.

The early evening sunlight casts a magical glow on this brand new micro desert.

Time to head back up to Lowes and buy another 400 pounds of sand.  I'll continue with Part 2 later in the NEXT week...


  1. Nice work! The after is way way way better than the before. I look forward to updates on how these fare, as you've selected some that I've been hesitant to put in the ground (yours are all going in the ground eventually?). That A. ovatifolia is especially gorgeous.

    1. It will definitely be fun to see what survives and what doesn't. I am fully prepared to go to extreme measures to ensure these agaves survive at least the first winter...

  2. Thats pretty impressive! Best of luck.

  3. WOW!! That's looking great, man!