Wednesday, 23 July 2014

One man's trash......

At the tail end of summer last year, I was visiting friends living near the city centre here in Edinburgh.   In the city, refuse is collected by way of a communal bin system.  Large refuse bins are sited in many of the streets.  When the bins are full or even on occasion when they are not, waste is just heaped on the ground around the bin.  Often this leads to making passing by these bins hazardous for pedestrians, abled bodies or otherwise!  Litter and fly tipping are pet hates of mine.   What has this got to do with gardening I hear you ask yourself?  I'm getting to that.     

When we were leaving my friend asked me if I'd be so kind as to pop a bag of rubbish in the bin at the end of the street.  It would save her going down later.  No problem, I told her.  As I got nearer the bin, I thought it was full as some lazy so and so had created a big mound of garbage bags around the bin.  Amongst the pile of bags and other garbage, I noticed 2 plants had been discarded amongst them.  After spending the next few minutes putting all of the bags into the rather empty bin, yes, Mr or Mrs Fly Tipper was a lazy so and so (you can add your own expletive if you wish) and couldn't even be bothered to lift up the lid.  I gathered up both the pots and popped them into the boot of the car.  Both were easily identified, the first was an Agapanthus.  It was kind of in flower.  The other a Yucca but other than that, I haven't a clue!   

Here is the Agapanthus as it was when I brought it home.  Rather pot bound don't you think?  

You do wonder why folks throw some plants out but what ever the reason, I'm just glad I was in the right place at the right time.  Their loss and all that!  


  


Windswept and interesting!

Getting it out of that pot was not easy.  The roots had grown through the holes in the base and I just couldn't get any purchase on it at all.  Out came my trusty utility knife and pad saw.  I was sure the plant could cope with a bit of root damage so all I needed to do was to take care and not loose a digit or two in the process.   I began hacking and sawing away at the pot. It took me quite a while to eventually free the whole thing up. 


Root, toot and I'm oot!
Just get a look at that root system!  It was all root and very little compost as far as I could see.   





Where to start?  The root ball was solid.  I plunged it in a basin of water for an hour or so.  Purely in the hope it would soften and free the roots up a bit.  In the end, I had to be really brutal with it, handfuls of roots were coming away.  They were very brittle, the water obviously hadn't soften them one little bit.  They might even by brittle by nature for all I knew.

What to do next?  I remembered reading that they perform better when they are pot bound but from what I could make out by looking at the plant, this may well not be the case.  Rocket science was not needed to see that.  I didn't want to put the plant under any more stress than I already had, I decided just to pot it up into a bigger pot at this stage.  I would revisit dividing it should recover and come back next year.  

For a week or so it looked a bit worse for wear but regular watering and some rain, it began to pick up.  It was kept in a cold greenhouse over winter.  If I had know we were to have a frost free winter, I'd have risked leaving it somewhere sheltered.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? 

It didn't die back completely (as my other Agapanthus does) but that could also be the result of the mild winter rather than it being evergreen.  I'm extremely doubtful of ever finding an exact identification, there are way too many hybrids and cultivars out there to even narrow it down.
         

Bad hair day!

If you'd like to jump forward 10 months with me and take a look at how it's doing this summer.  It is flowering but even less that it had appeared to do last year.  Obviously my potting on didn't do quite what I had hoped.   




I just need to take the bull by the horns this autumn and set about dividing it into smaller pots.  I suspect it's going to be a bit of a real slice, dice and hack job rather than gently gently!

Before you ask, the Yucca?  Well, what do you think?  I really need some advice here if anyone has any to offer.         


For a while there, each new leaf was splitting across width ways when they reached a height of around 5 inches but that seems to have stopped now.  All new growth recently has been much healthier and is no longer splitting.   I think it's crying out to be repotted but am unsure of what's going on with those tuber like 'things' on the surface.  Are they roots?  Which growing medium would you recommend?  I know in the ground they will prefer a sunny well drained spot but don't think I'd risk putting it in the ground here as the winter wet will probably be an issue as might winter temperatures.  I'm thinking a John Innes based compost, with some grit and some soil conditioner to retain a little moisture. 

It was nice to find 2 good sized plants and even better to have rescued them.  After all, if I hadn't someone else definitely would have.  I know I'm not the only one to have found plants in the most unlikely place.  Chloris over at The Blooming Garden has a Yucca in bloom for the first time since she rescued it from the municipal dump a few years ago.    What about you? Any exciting finds or perhaps you found a monster, a plant you regret rescuing and are wondering why you ever bothered in the first place.

20 comments:

  1. Good for you! No advice, just admiration for your rescue mission.

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  2. Thanks Ricki, it would have been rude not to take them!

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  3. Oh well done you Angie ! Bit like getting a Rescue dog but without the need for regular walks !!
    We opened our gardens last Sunday and a visitor was telling me that Agapanthus bloom better if they are pot bound, so maybe you will have lots more blooms next year when yours have developed more of a root system.
    haven't a clue about the Yucca, but it looks happy enough.
    I am going to inspect skips and communal bins from now on!!

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    1. Far less effort than a rescue dog Jane ;) I once found a pile of terracotta and ceramic pots being loaded onto a van, destined for the tip. Thankfully I had the brass neck to ask for them. It's amazing what other discard.

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  4. What a lucky find! My Yucca is growing in the garden, they're not difficult with soil as long as it is well-drained. Agapanthus can be evergreen like A. africanus and its varieties but then they're more delicate and may need to be protected in the winter. My Agapanthus are terribly pot bound, Angie, so much so that I actually have to destroy the pot when I eventually re-pot them. They flower quite happily.

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    1. Isn't it Annette! I've been told that the yucca may do ok here in the ground but am rather sceptical. I've another pot of Agapanthus in a similar state, I stupidly planted them in a pot with a waist. A hammer will be needed.
      I suspect this may be an evergreen variety, in a normal winter, I should have that confirmed.

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  5. Oh, good rescue, and a nice reward for saving your friend a trip to the bin!

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    1. Yes Janet, I always keep my eyes peeled when I visit her now. You never know!

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  6. You get a big pat on the back! I think the Agapanthus looks terrific and will continue to improve even if you leave it in the same pot for another year. In early photos it appears the plant was hothouse cultivated with lots of fertilizer for spectacular bloom; the type of thing we find for sale in grocery stores in the US. I have no advice on the Yucca, but a friend has similar ones...his is Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'. Folks here with deer problems add them to the garden in an effort to keep the big pests away.

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    1. Thanks for the pat on the back Marian. I can see exactly how the deer don't like the Yucca, those sharp tips can do a bit of damage. I speak from experience!

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  7. Well who are all these Yucca dumpers? It' s very mysterious, this outbreak of Yucca dumping. It probably is Yucca gloriosa ' Variegata' as long as it' s not Yucca filamentosa' Variegata'.
    You are going to have plenty of Agapanthus. They do like to be potbound but yours didn' t seem to have any soil at all so I' m sure it will appreciate your ministrations.

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    1. Between us Chloris, maybe we could run a Yucca rescue centre ;) Each time I prick my leg on those sharp tips when I walk by, I can see why someone would get rid.
      I think you are right re the soil, the only new medium they had was the small amount I added.

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  8. Hi Angie, congratulations on your successful plant rescue! I think it is always fun to nurse a plant back to health. Agapanthus grow like a weed here, but that doesn't diminish their beauty. The Yucca could be very pot bound as well, and I don't think they like it that much, so I would simply try to re-pot it. When you see the rootball in the process that will tell you something and give you some clues. Good luck!
    Christina

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  9. Hello Angie, I think you have proven that it is true that Agapanthus like to be pot bound before they flower. Lots of healthy leaves on it this year though, so well done on saving it.

    The Yucca could have had its growing point damaged at some point and as the leaves grew out you could see the mechanical damage come through, but now it is okay. The tubers are roots. I have some Yucca in pots and grow them in JI no 3 with added grit. I used to have a couple more big linearis and thompsoniana in the ground, but Dec 09 and Dec 10 killed them.

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  10. We inherited a yucca when we moved in over 20 years ago. It was well established then. We have had some pretty severe winters from time to time since then, sometimes below -10 deg and it's still going from strength to strength. So although it may look tender, it's tough as old boots. We do have a sandy soli here, and it's in a sunny position, so that obviously helps. As for the agapanthus, you're right they do like to be pot bound. Maybe you've rejuvenated them, by potting on, so now they need to be left to fill out again. Just my thoughts! They are both looking good, though!

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  11. I guess that people too lazy to put their rubbish in bins also can't be bothered to take proper care of their plants. Good for you in rescuing them! All my Agapanthus are in the ground and, although some clumps look to be in need of dividing, I haven't taken that task on yet; however, a friend of mine dug hers up and handed them off to my brother and I know it took the bulbs another year or so to bloom after replanting. My Yucca are also in the ground so all I can recommend there is to use a well-draining soil and don't over-water.

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  12. What a great find! I could never contemplate throwing a plant away, I always have to try and palm my unwanted ones onto someone else.

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  13. well done on the rescue Angie, after your story about the rescued Irises I think you do run the Edinburgh plant rescue centre, the agapanthus may just need a year or two to build up it's strength again then it will give a wonderful display, Frances

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  14. Wow, that root system is ... yeah, bulky. You sure did it a favor to re-pot it. The foliage looks so much better now--maybe it's putting a lot of its nutrients into the foliage, and perhaps it will bloom more for you next year. I don't know much about growing Yuccas, but it looks like you have some suggestions from the others. Great plants, though!

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  15. It's fascinating to read about a post about communal bins. I can certainly see why the set-up can be a bother to other people. In my opinion, if one's going to use bins, might as well have them all on ground level and identifiable, so that the trash won't be all over the place. People can always go and buy one for their houses. Kudos!

    Clarence Rios @ Bins By Jo

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