Something was missing when we looked out at the garden yesterday although, strictly speaking, not missing at all as it is still very much present …
In January this year we noticed that one of our huge sword plants had sprouted a stalk that looked like a giant piece of asparagus. It quickly grew taller and we knew that this was the beginning of the plant’s death knell. It would produce flowers, then eventually die. We had no idea of timescale but hoped it would survive so that our visitors in the spring could see it.
It survived until yesterday, nine months later, and all of our visitors this year were able to see what looked like a freaky type of tree. We’d been wondering how much longer it would last, as it still looked pretty green and healthy. The flowers it had sprouted up on high were a magnet for the local bees and, after the flowers had died, small green things replaced them. These baby swords would drop to the ground regularly and we’ve been scooping them up to avoid our garden eventually turning into a spiky no-go zone.
For most of its nine months, The Spike had had a tendency to lean, and we’d already worked out more or less where it would land if it fell over before we could remove it. When it crashed to the ground some time yesterday (we missed the event itself), our predictions turned out to be accurate.
Now we just have to dispose of the ‘trunk’ (which we’re told secretes an irritating fluid you don’t want to get on your skin) and pick up the thousands of baby sword plants from the garden path. Then decide what to do about the new gap in our garden greenery.
©Jan Edwards 2016
In the early days of setting up a garden in the field of our finca home in rural Mallorca, we had no idea quite how large everything would grow. It seems that the lack of soil depth on our rocky land has been no deterrent to growth: aloes, agaves, ‘swords’ (I have no idea of their official name), and yuccas, have all grown to sizes beyond our expectations.
I used to wonder when our garden would be considered ‘mature’. Well, I think it’s now: one of our ‘sword’ plants has sprouted something akin to the beanstalk of the famous fairytale, and resembling a giant stalk of asparagus. If only. Think of the culinary treats . . .
We know that the stalk will eventually throw out a flower and, once that has died, it’s goodbye plant. Although it’s quite exciting to see this thing grow (and it’s making fairly rapid progress out there), this mighty plant, having flowered, will wither and keel over. We’ve checked its future trajectory and our roof seems to be in no danger, but The Boss will have quite a job to dig the dead plant – and what are probably quite impressive roots – out of the ground. A decade ago it was a small and rather sickly thing when a kind neighbor gave it to us to help fill some of the yawning space that was crying out to be a Mediterranean garden.
No wonder it’s called the sword plant . . .
Although the evil spikes on the end of each sword-like leaf have punctured various bits of our bodies during gardening sessions (ouch!), we’ll still be sorry to lose such an impressive architectural plant.
Getting figgy with it
. . . the first of the fig leaves emerge on the trees. Don’t they look like little green butterflies resting for a while?
. . . your shoulders and back ache from all the weeding you thought wouldn’t be necessary after having laid a special membrane to stop weeds growing.
. . . you have to be careful not to tread on a tortoise when walking in the undergrowth.
. . . your arms look and feel like pincushions after trimming all the agaves and sword-like plants.
. . . the birds start checking out nesting sites in the old almond tree in the field (the one the cats like to climb).
. . . the warm sunshine that bathed the island in the final weeks of winter is replaced by grey skies, cool temperatures and drizzle!