About a year ago I noticed something weird laying alongside Vallombrosa as my husband and I were out with the dogs, but I couldn’t get a good look at it. I kept noticing it laying there – an old potted plant, looked like it had been tossed out of a car. I know people abandon pets in Bidwell Park but I never seen an abandoned plant. I finally asked my husband to pull over so I could take a look at it.
It was an old mother agave, crammed into about an 18 inch pot, full of babies, some of which were hanging by their umbilical cord over the side of the pot. All dried out and mummified looking.
I always wanted an agave, but they intimidate me a little. See those needles? My grandpa showed me one once – you can take that needle at the tip of the leaf and pull it down along the leaf – for geeshy sakes be careful! – and you will have a needle and thread suitable for stitching soft leather.
The spines along the edge of the leaf will cut you like a saw.
I would call this plant, “Mother-in-law’s tongue,” but I think there’s already a plant with that nickname. My mom and my mother-in-law both had tongues that could cut you.
So you know I wanted one real bad. Finder’s keepers, right? It had been sitting there for weeks that I knew of, everybody had their whack. So, I took a holt on that pot, and I tugged, and my husband found himself a holt and he tugged, but that thing was so heavy there was no way we would get it in the truck.
We had to come back with a shovel. So the next day while doing landscaping work at our various rentals, we went over to see if the pot was still there – as if! There she was, laying on her side where we’d left her. I went at the pot with my hand snippers – good luck! The baby plants hanging over the side of the pot had tough roots attaching them, I had to hack them off with the blade of my shovel. The big plant was really stuck in there, the roots were so impacted, it was like breaking a lump of cement. By and by I whacked loose two medium size plants, including the once pictured above, and I felt that sense of accomplishment, plus, I was afraid I was pushing my luck with those needles.
We left the pot laying alongside the road. Within a couple of weeks it disappeared – good for whoever took it, I had my chance. I hate to see a nice thing go to waste.
It took me a while to decide where to plant them, in the meantime, I laid them in an empty planter pot and dumped some dirt over the roots. There they sat for weeks while I tried to make a decision. These pig stickers get very big. There’s one across the road from the new records building in O-ville that’s as big as the family van parked next to it.
They multiply by little shoots like crabgrass, can you imagine a thing like this that grows like crabgrass?
So, we must be careful where we place things. I put the first one in my cactus patch, and I’m already wondering if it’s too crowded.
I put the tiny babies in one pot – now they are busting to get out!
The last plant sat with very little dirt in a medium size pot, I kept meaning to plant it, but it ended up sitting there all through Winter. I couldn’t ignore something that wanted to live so bad.
We have a big yard in front of our tenant’s house, she never even uses it, telling me how nice it is to have so much space between her house and the street. We’ve left a big lawn in the middle, right in the bright sun, where past tenants have put a volley ball net, a picnic table, and one of those climbing things with the net, but our current tenant placed her table on the patio so she could sit back and watch the butterflies fluttering over the flowers.
When we bought this house there was a well-established butterfly garden, with big yucca plants, flowering artichokes, and these neat little plants my grandma called “Devil’s Poker” for their scissor leaves and their spear shaped red flowers. I figured the agave would fit right in. Weatherman said rain this weekend, perfect time to transplant, so I loaded the bigger plant into my wheelbarrow and lugged it up front. I picked a spot where there were a lot of annoying little weeds growing.
We’ll see how it looks after this storm!