The mighty, macho agave
The plant was stubborn, but I was hopeful our relationship would bloom.
I wouldnâ€™t call the plant beautiful. It was more like a handsome dude. Macho, strong, and somewhat controlling. I found it almost impossible to cut his tenacious tips or trim his fibrous browning leaves even with my sharpest garden clippers.
Instinctively I knew that the repotting procedure would be a struggle. Impenetrable garden gloves were essential. I bought a pair that covered my hands and part of my forearms.
I used a hammer to smash the container that this masculine succulent had long ago outgrown. I tore strips of plastic away from Mr. Handsomeâ€™s roots.
â€śI know itâ€™s torture now,â€ť I apologized as I yanked his thorny spear-shaped leaves out of the jail that had formed in his snug pot, â€śbut youâ€™ll feel freer and much more alive soon.â€ť
In reply, he stung the part of my arm that was unprotected. Ouch! Still, I understood. Iâ€™d want to get even, too, if I had been bruised and battered this way.
Finally, the repotting was complete. I planned to position the poor guy on the deck where the sun would shed light on his green-blueness as he lounged in his new orange home.
As I set him down in the perfect spot, his spear point pricked the tip of my nose. I felt the pain and instantly forgave him again. I watered him lightly to calm him down, and stepped back to admire how proud and straight he looked.
The day before, when I first saw him on Karenâ€™s porch, I was smitten.
â€śItâ€™s pot-bound and I have no place for it,â€ť she said. â€śMaybe Iâ€™ll just throw it into our green trash. At least itâ€™ll get recycled.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll take him,â€ť I said quickly, even though I knew the danger.
Karen looked at me funny as I knelt on the concrete to pick him up.
After the repotting episode, I researched â€śagaveâ€ť in my copy of Sunsetâ€™s â€śWestern Garden Book.â€ť Heâ€™s really called a century plant. After 10 years, the book reported, he would produce â€śa branched 15- to 40-ft. flower stalk bearing yellowish green flowers.â€ť
Karen had already had Mr. Handsome for five years. In a mere five more, my man might blossom. I only hope our relationship lasts that long.