Now that the agaves have been moved (an act which I unguardedly referred to as “rescue”), an analysis of the situation is possible.
These are dead. They may look alive, or slightly dead, but in fact they are dead.
“How do you know they’re dead?”
Someone who has killed as many plants as I have knows when a plant has reached the point of no return. It could be, like in The Princess Bride, they’re “mostly dead”, but if they decide to come back from the roots, it will take them years to get back to the size that makes them imposing landscape features, straining the patience for which I am famous.
“But they come from a mountain in Texas.”
“Coming from a mountain in Texas” carries as much weight with me as “survived four winters in a terribly exposed garden in San Diego”.
I feel well enough disposed toward the plants that I might consider spraying them with plastic and then painting them agave blue, or I might just buy more. They were growing in full sun in “well-drained soil”, sand and gravel and not much else, but they still got wet, which they would obviously do with water draining around the roots (the analogy is a “well-drained sponge”), and should have been planted where they are growing, dead though they may be, right now. The whole thing, in other words, could be all my fault.
“What happened to the hop tree?”
The hop tree, despite its name, had to be moved by me, and took a short ride in the wheelbarrow. Here it is.
“That doesn’t look like your yard.”
It’s not. I just moved it here because there was a space.
“So let me get this straight. You just dug it up, snuck into someone else’s yard, and planted it there?”
“Do you do this a lot? Clandestine transplanting? Do your neighbors know about this?”
“What about the tree peony?”
That stayed in my yard. And incidentally, I did not use an ordinary shovel to dig it up. I’m a gardener, and do not own ordinary shovels. (I do have one that someone left in the yard years ago, which I use for cleaning up after the dog.) This is what I used.
Enough questions for now.