snow, agaves, and rodents

Greetings and salutations everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to bring you the latest news from our garden on this delightfully chilly day. You may remember me from such excellent posts “Trouble In Paradise” and “A Futile Effort”, among so many others.

Here I am in a characteristically noble pose.


Suitable for framing, don’t you think? Actually I was wondering when the guy I live with was going to give me a biscuit. He did eventually. 

It’s been somewhat cold here. This was before we went on our afternoon walk, and before the wind came up. 

120701At least one of the agaves here didn’t much like the sudden drop in temperature in the several days. The guy I live with says this is cuticle damage, because the agave was spending all this time thinking it was nice and warm, instead of bundling up for the cold, or something like that. He says it’ll recover. 

120703This one looks okay though.

120710These too. You can just see the pointy ends sticking up through the snow. 

120711The big ones seem okay too. Agave havardiana. The one over on the right that doesn’t look okay actually is, according to the guy I live with, who said it had too much wet snow on it last winter, and so it got moved over here to a “safer” place. It just looks bad. And, I guess I should say, looking bad is pretty normal for almost everything here. 

120714Here I am making sure everything is doing well. We still haven’t gotten the new screen door he keeps talking about getting. 

120709Meanwhile, in the back yard, practically nothing is happening. Practically nothing happens here all the time, which might drive some people crazy, but we like it that way. Here’s a picture of the rock gardens taken from the upstairs window. He wrapped the Picea pungens ‘Fastigiata’ like he always does. Or really, he wrapped it with ugly brown twine and then re-wrapped it with Nutscene green twine, so it didn’t look so awful. Even I could tell the difference. 

120712A typical winter scene in the back yard.

120705This is on the path to the way back. The new sand pile is just to the left of this. You can see how natural it looks now.

120704Funny, huh? The guy I live with says this will be funny for a while. I’m not so sure. But anyway, he put up the squirrel feeder and it seems to be working. 





120706They think they’re being really naughty, stealing seed, when this is what they’re supposed to do, so, he says, “everybody wins”. 

I guess that’s all. They say it’s supposed to warm up in a few days. Maybe even get to freezing. It’ll be almost like summer. 

Until next time, then. 



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12 Responses to snow, agaves, and rodents

  1. Tracey says:

    The squirrel photos are beautiful – crisp, clear, very funny. They’ve made my week. I just got home and I am being deliberately ignored by a tuxedo Maine Coon cat who looks like you in cat form, Chess, because his dinner is so late. We are expecting snow tomorrow which will be a real shock for our plants because NYC has had a very warm fall.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. Squirrels rarely move away from food, even if threatened with having their pictures taken. The guy I live with explained that that was what the funny bup sound was in the back yard. Bup. Bup. Bup. The lid of the squirrel feeder shutting.
      You can see what a shock it was for the one Agave utahensis, what the the 80 F degree drop in temperature, but maybe that’ll be the only shocked plant. The guy I live with is kind of indifferent to all this, and just makes plans to get more seed, or plants. He used to run out in the garden and moan and moan, but these days he just says “Huh”, and then goes back inside. (He’s kind of a nut, if you didn’t know.)

  2. petabunn says:

    I love the snow photos of your back garden, that is after the brilliant photo of you being noble Chess. And a good pose it is too. But I do especially like the snowy photos though, maybe one day I will get to see snow for real. Unfortunately they don’t let dogs in national parks and that is mainly where we get snow here. I’d like to roll in it I think, maybe. The pics of the agave points sticking up through the snow are good but I do like the more natural looking wintery, snowy back garden to give me a chill.
    I know they are pests however the pics of the squirrel are very cute.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says they have snow on Mount Kosciuszko but even so it probably doesn’t get as cold there as it was here last night. (The picture of the thermometer was taken about 3:30 in the afternoon.)
      Snow is fun to roll in. It’s also nice to eat. My buddy Slipper and I used to race around the yard in the snow. I think it’s about -16C now.

  3. Susan ITPH says:

    I didn’t tie up my spruce in time and now it’s all messed up. Again. More hopeful for my agaves as I took to kooky measures for their protection. No doubt my overconfidence will be my undoing come spring.

    • paridevita says:

      Nutscene works really well, because it’s green and not very noticeable. The guy I live with has been using it for a quarter of a century.
      Spraying agaves with Cloud Cover seems to help a little. (Moving them indoors is even better …)

  4. Oh, Chess, you exhibit such *gravitas* in your portrait. What makes it such fun is your pose is a to-do over a biscuit.
    Love the agave bits poking through the snow. What a notion! We got rain today – yay! – and that’s our extreme weather for the year.
    My, those squirrels have rounded tummies. Thank the guy you live with for giving us photos of the feeder — I’ve been wondering. The “bup,” “bup” doesn’t disturb you? I think “being really naughty” is the default squirrel persona. (Squirrelona?)

    • paridevita says:

      Gravitas, that’s me indeed. I like gravy a lot, too, thank you.
      Talk about being really naughty. One of the fat squirrels tried to chew their way into the seed and so now the feeder is all chewed, after being up for one whole day.

  5. Chloris says:

    I’m really surprised that you can leave your Agaves outside with all that snow. They even die in an unheated greenhouse here. The trouble with wrapping things up is that you get parcels all over your garden if you are not careful. I’m not sure that this a good look.
    Don’t talk to me about squirrels, they didn’t leave me a single walnut. this year.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says it’s a complicated thing. And I quote: “Some species of agaves will tolerate very cold temperatures if they are kept completely dry during the period of cold. The snow on the ground here is too cold to melt, and so plants experience it as dryness. This is a good thing.
      Examples of agaves that tolerate these conditions are Agave parryi and its varieties, couesii, neomexicana, and huachucensis, Agave utahensis and its variety kaibabensis, and sometimes Agave havardiana, A. toumeyana and its variety, bella, and maybe some others. It varies by garden, soil (mine are in sand and gravel with no organic matter, except for the havardianas that are growing in dry dust), exposure, etc.
      Agaves do not go fully dormant in winter. This means they can still take up water from their roots. The hardy species have an adaptation which allows them to become cold hardened, but even so, the roots will still take up water, and if they do during periods of extreme cold, they die. The ability to shut down water intake varies by species, but all of them will do it to one degree or another, so if you were growing the same agaves pictured in the post in a climate where the soil was wet, the agaves could die at +2C, where here they will take -30C.
      Not “drainage”, but dryness. (The reason why “not drainage” is that the plants are adapted to extract enough water even in “well drained soil” that they will die under cold enough conditions. Not some water, no water.)
      It rained here three times last winter (three times more than it ever has before) and that killed quite a few agaves, and cactus, too. Coldest temperature last winter was -20C.”
      I guess that makes sense.

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