Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Say Goodbye to Agapanthus

Many California gardeners are likely to say good riddance. This tuberous perennial South African lily with cymes of blue or white bell shaped flowers in the late spring gets used a lot in California landscapes. At least it seems that way from garden pictures of the left coast. I haven't really spent much time there myself.

Like Hibiscus and Bougainvillea in Hawaii which are over used to the point of disdain, Agapanthus may be as common as dirt in California.

This plant is a workhorse in the landscape though. It is tough, bug free and a reliable bloomer. It is a nice foreground plant for taller shrubs and planted en mass it works better than a lot of groundcovers.

I had it planted in rows in my garden to use as stock plants. When needed I could dig and divide the clumps to plant bare root for new landscapes or to pot up the divisions to sell. I would replant a new start in the ground and repeat the process over and over.

That is over in Hawaii for now. I did not replant new starts when I dug these up today. It will begin a new in a new location. Starting I am sure by pillaging my parents mountaintop garden to begin my own.

The universe has always been kind to me in so many ways. I may not be a huge economic success, but I have always been given what I need when I need it. Life generally flows smoothly for me. Things fall into place, often with little effort on my part.

What was I going to do with these rows of Agapanthus in the ground and not really enough time to grow them out as potted plants? I certainly had no intent of leaving them for my landlords to kill. The universe sent me Phoebe.

She is one of my best customers and when I saw her in the other nursery in town I said hello of course. She asked me "Do you have...?"

"Agapanthus" I replied.

"Oh that would actually work for this job" she said.

So I dug up six big clumps of the large deep blue colored Agapanthus and made thirty starts for Phoebe and a chunk of change for me.

Now what am I going to do with that bigger row of the light blue standard Agapanthus?


The County Clerk said...

Jesus... Agapanthus... my beautiful South Texas friends... the flower of summer... send them to me!

Actually, don't. They can't survive in Illinois.

But then again, neither can I.

(Maybe when I get my greenhouse up.)

mmw said...

It is easy to loathe agapanthus here, because they are so ubiquitous, but they are really incredible plants, if you think about it. Practically disease-free, strappy evergreen foliage, dependable bloomers, large (if mostly insipidly-colored) inflorescences... what more could you want?

I don't have any, but it's not because I'm a snob, it's because I see them everywhere without sacrificing any of my yard to them.

Deviant Deziner said...

Despite being waaaaaaaay overly used in California I still like this plant and use it in my landscapes.

I am particularily drawn to two different varieties, one is a mammouth giant called Agapanthus Storm Cloud . It sends out 6 foot long stiff sturdy stems that has a gigantic deep electric' black light ' violet flower at the end.

The other variety doesn't have the flowering WOW power as Storm Cloud but it does have incredibly wonderful variegated creamy yellow and green striped foliage and light pale blue flowers.
I believe it is simply called ' vaiegata '.

My appreciation of Agapanthus was reinforced during a horticultural internship that I did in Massachusetts.
I was fortunate to live at an old historic rambling estate in Weston where I did part time garden work for my room .
One weekend it was my chore to liberate four large beautiful antique terra cotta pots from the root cellar and place them out on the pool patio at each corner.
In each antique terra cotta pot was a clump of common pale blue agapanthus.

They were treasured as an exotic plant variety , and I must admit, even from this Californians perspective, they looked damn good .

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

The Agapanthus cultivars only started to arrive in Hawaii recently. I was drawn to a diminuative plant with a deep blue flower. We already have so much large foliage here.

Soon I will be able to grow the Alliums I have seen in catalogs all these years. Agapanthus was one of those plants in a nomenclature tug of war. It was an allium now its not.

Allium tricoccum or Ramp is a coveted wild leek that grows on the land there. There is a Ramp Festival in the spring, kinda like a chili cook off. Ramp may become one of my specialty crops.

chuck b. said...

I really don't want to see any Agapanthus when I go to Hawaii.

Xris said...

I have envied gardeners whose Agapanthi are hardy in their gardens.

I want to experiment and try some in the ground. In the worst case, I won't have to wait but a few years until they, too, are hardy in Brooklyn.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Chuck, Maui was not on your itinerary and it is the island that has been Kalifornicated the most. That will lessen your chances of seeing Agapanthus. To be sure stay away from fancy hotels, condos and gated neighborhoods.