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Do you love or hate century plants (Agave americana)?

A gopher that developed a taste for my Agave americana 'Marginata' ate its way up into the core of the plant, which subsequently tumbled down the bank. Voila: huge plant, gone.

gopher damaged agave

The gopher wisely avoided the terminal spines and teeth along the leaf margins. To get rid of a mature century plant, you'll need gloves like those for pruning roses, made of tough suede---ideally gauntlet gloves that come up to the elbows. Before you tackle the plant, snip the sharp terminal spines at the tips of each leaf. Wear eye protection. Not only are there spines, some people find agave sap irritating---although it's not poisonous. In fact, in some parts of Mexico, the "pina" (core of an agave) is eaten raw or roasted. You might want to show your children how native peoples used agave leaves to sew with. Take a sharp tip and break it almost off. Pull it downward, along the length of the leaf. Threadlike fibers will come with it.

Another option is to simply pineapple the plants (although doing so horrifies agave lovers). Cut the lowest leaves all the way back to the core, leaving a half dozen upright ones in the center. Do it neatly so the symmetry of the plant is preserved---don't cut leaves back halfway. You'll have an ornamental plant that's no longer a beast. Plus, no core to dispose of. Unwanted pups are weeds that should be removed whenever they pop up. After a rain storm, when the ground is soft, is a great time to remove them. They're shallow-rooted, so it's possible to lift a pup out of the ground, main root and all. The root is like an umbilical cord, attached to the mother plant.

Below is Sheryl Crow's garden in Beverly Hills. Think we should warn her?

Sheryl Crow's garden

TWO Succulent Calendars for 2015!

Succulent photo calendar

Someone asked if I would make a photo calendar of succulents for 2015---they didn't want a watercolor calendar. Doubtless there are others who feel the same, which doesn't hurt my feelings. OK, maybe a teensy bit.

odesty aside, I do think my newly created Succulent Photos 2015 Calendar (above) turned out terrific. The watecolor calendar is below.
Both are available from Succulent Chic, my Zazzle store

Succulent watercolor calendar

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My Mission Is... share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog posts, newsletters, public speaking and workshops, photos, videos, merchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified.

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Please share this if you like. I welcome photos of your garden's progress, and any super design ideas you come up with or may run across. I also hope to see (and meet) you at one of my events! ~ Debra Lee Baldwin

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