every blooming thing

Courtesy photo/Colette Inman Bauer

The Agave plant is one of Red Bluff Garden Club member Colette Inman Bauer’s favorite succulents.

Succulents are all the rage right now and with good reason. They have fleshy stems and leaves which store water and, therefore, can survive on very little moisture, are easy to propagate, and come in a myriad of shapes, colors and sizes. They also keep their leaves year round. What’s not to like? I say all of this because we just returned from a trip to the southern part of the state (Ventura to be specific) where we enjoyed the ambiance of the beach house, being cold, watching dolphins, and walking in wet sand. (What we did not enjoy was the traffic and the strong winds.)

One of our pleasures on our trips south is walking around the neighborhood looking at landscapes. Over the years the landscapes have dramatically changed. Where there were once lawns there are now drought tolerant plantings. Succulents and cactus abound. We saw so many different varieties of succulents it was mind boggling. We would “ooh” and “ahh” over one planting just to take a few more steps and find another equally or even more unique. It was all I could do not to nip off a cutting here and there. Honesty prevailed and I kept my hands to myself.

The good news was that while visiting cousin Tish, we were invited to help ourselves to any plants we wanted. I was ready to rent a trailer but the husband, who is not as into plants as I, convinced me otherwise. I was very circumspect, and chose just a few interesting specimens. I must add that that was made easier by Tish offering to drop off a truck load of succulents on her way north.

Of the succulents we brought home, my favorite by far is the Blue Flame Agave. Although this particular Agave is not listed for zones 8 and 9, mine are doing very well growing in afternoon shade. This plant is rosette in form and will grow to be four feet around and about as tall. Its fleshy leaves, which are blue-green in color, get to be about two and one half feet tall and two feet in width. The good news is that this agave does well in temperatures down to 25 degrees F - so it should winter well.

Cautions about agaves are that their sap can cause severe irritation to the skin so wear gloves when working with them. Also, they do not do well in standing water and thus need well-draining soil. The good news is that they do very well in pots and can be moved as conditions dictate.

I know it’s a little early to think about the Garden Club’s Plant Sale, but if everything goes well, there should be a variety of succulents to choose from. After all, succulents are a unique and water wise way to add amazing interest to the landscape.

Join the Red Bluff Garden Club for their monthly meeting which is held at the First Methodist Church, 525 David Ave., Red Bluff at 1 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month. Guests are welcome.

The Red Bluff Garden Club Inc. is a member of the Cascade District Garden Club, California Garden Clubs, Inc.; Pacific Region Garden Clubs, and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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