Garden Macho 11/09/12

It’s been called living sculpture, a giant stylized artichoke, the cousin to the aloe, new world native, and a vital component to both tequila and didgeridoos: The agave.

It thrives on neglect, needs no fertilizer, very little water, and can tolerate a variety of soils as long they’re well drained. The perfect addition to the California garden.

Agave makes an excellent candidate for potting as it produces¬† sparse roots and tolerates crowding. It’s also a good companion to the pool as it produces litter sparingly.

The agave’s natural structure makes it an excellent sculptural accompaniment to soft grasses, wispy wildflowers, tufty salvias, and other fine-leafed gatherings. It not only provides the masculine element, it makes the feminine appear even more so.

It also makes for a striking emotional impact, its visual severity along with its spines and dagger-like projections can add drama to a any garden or country road.

Agaves are available in many color, sizes, and varieties including spineless.

Below, the sentries of the Sunnyland Gardens in Rancho Mirage, CA:

Beneath the pergola one agave stands like both king and jester at the terminus of this visual corridor: The general-in-arms and a floppy and spiky armed clown. If great gardens are like kaleidoscopic mixtures of beautiful contrasts then the agave, as one designer said, “is a great design opportunity.”