Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning

This is the time to trim back last year’s growth on grasses and perennials and prepare for new growth. Normally, I do my pruning in mid-February, but I did not get around to it this year until now. The low temperatures this winter damaged some of the plants on the Prairie. I will not know the full extent of the damage for another month or two, but some of the damage is obvious now.

Caution: Some of the following images may not be suitable for the faint of heart.

The agave in the photo above is supposed to be a cross between Agave americana and Agave scabra. It turned to mush. Have you ever smelled agave mush? It stinks. I found a few live pups underground as I was digging out the mush, but I decided not to save them. Only the strong survive in my Prairie.

This dismembered Agave parryi v. Truncata is history too. This variety is supposed to be pretty cold hardy. It’s possible that my clay soil holds too much moisture in the winter for agaves.

Another victim is this prickly pear. It probably would have survived the freeze damage and rot, but it did not survive me. It poked me one too many times.

While I was removing agaves, I took out this one too. Only Agave neomexicana survived the wrath of the cold weather and me.

Hedge trimmers are great for cutting down grasses, if you don't mind the bending and crawling around on your knees.

After a couple of hours, the Prairie ready for Spring. Ready, Set, Grow!


  1. Some of the larger agaves bit the dust here too but the smaller specimens made it. ???

    I'm pruning-phobic, always sure I'm going to hurt the plant. Have been wondering about pruning the bamboo muhley. It turned to straw this winter but there is green coming up a lot of the stems. What would you do?

  2. All of my grasses die to the ground in the winter, so I cut all the dead off in the spring. My experience with bamboo muhley is limited. The first time I grew it, it froze out the first winter. The second time I tried, it survived a mild winter. It seems like the grass did not die to the ground and it re-sprouted from the shoots about six inches from the ground. I cut back the dead part and let the stubs re-sprout. It did OK that summer, but froze out the next winter. That was my last attempt. It is a little too cold sensitive for my climate. If the stems on yours are still alive, I think I would leave them alone and see what happens. Good luck!

  3. Just recently found your blog, and love it. Hope to see some more posts though this year. I am going to be slowly turning my front yard into a garden this year.

    About your agaves, the next few you plant, work some expanded shale and minerals into the soil to loosen it, and try to plant them above grade. That should do the trick.

    Curtis in Richardson.

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Curtis. Check back again. I try to post something at least once a month. You should start a blog to journal the progression of your yard. It is fun to look back at the changes over the months and years.

    You know, I used expanded shale and lava sand when I planted the agaves and I used decomposed granite as a mulch. They were even planted on a slope. I think I just had some agave varieties that were not as cold hardy. The Agave neomexicana came through the winter without a blemish.

    I replaced my mushy agaves with some Yucca pallida that I bought at the Heard Museum native plant sale last year. They survived the winter in one gallon pots. I will post some pictures of them soon. Stay tuned...

  5. Thanks for the bamboo muhley advice! Sounds like the distance between the southern Hill Country and Plano is too far for bamboo muhley.

  6. Good old prickly pear! I actually have one of those all the way up here in Illinois. I have learned to have respect for it. I once had to throw away a pair of leather gloves because they had become infested with a zillion of those tiny spines!


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