“Yo Ho Ho and a Barrow of Cactus”

I woke up this morning with a plan. I have know idea why, but in the twilight daze somewhere between sleep and full consciousness, my brain had already decided today’s gardening activity. Today was the day to relocate my two containered barrel cactus from my front yard into into my new middle bed in the back yard.

The removal of the barrel cactus from their containers and subsequent replanting sounded like an easy task with my head on the pillow and my body on a tempurpedic, the reality was a little more painful. Before I could wipe the sleep from my eyes I was gathering blankets and the tools for the job.

Here they are. These cacti have grown significantly over the years in these two containers.

The cacti were pretty well jammed into these two pots. It was time to
break out my machete, which as it turned out, was the perfect tool.
I slid the flexible blade around the perimeter of the container and worked
my way around the perimeter of the pot. The blade did a great job of releasing
the soil and roots from the container. I placed an old mexican blanket
on the ground and wearing some old gloves, shuffled the cacti out of their
containers. I gathered the four corners of the blanket and hoisted the orb of pain
up onto my wheelbarrow.

Before the extraction I prepped two holes in my new middle bed to
accommodate the two plants. I wanted to cluster them together pretty close
with a view to “tuck in” close, a couple more smaller barrels in the spring.

“Wait, did he just say no more barrels until the spring?”

I was amazed just how heavy these cacti were. I tried to retain as much
root structure as possible, which, incidentally went a lot deeper into
the containers than I initially anticipated.


I managed only a couple of puncture wounds on the first cacti extraction,
mostly due to my obsession to extracate some satanic bermuda grass
that had naturally weaved its way right up against the un-accessible base of the cacti.

I really would not have expected anything less from it!

I have been trying to pull this grass out of this container for a few years now, without any success.
It was so satisfying to finally get it out by the roots, I just hope I got it all!

On removal of the second barrel, we were pleasantly greeted by a large number of these large, unusually pale ants. They were not happy about my home wrecking activities.

Okay not quite that large. Did you known that ants evolved a mere 120 million years ago!

Here is a close up of one of these ants, climbing around its crazy thorned castle. It is amazing how the thorns grow out of concentrated clusters. The spines have an ivory quality to them when viewed close up like this. Talk about being protected!
I searched for some time to get a positive ID on this ant, but I had no luck…Anybody?

This second container heralded one final character that caught me off guard; a wizened toad carcass bearing a distinct resemblance to a pompeii victim…what! ?
Look at the limb positions etc, etc…okay, moving quickly to the final result…

Here are the barrels nestled in their new fast draining home. It will be some time before I know if they are enjoying it or dying, the roots were just sort of bundled underneath them. These cacti do not warrant much planting adjustment, where they fall is where they lie.

“Aye, just like the English on the battlefield”!

And a wider view of the new skinny middle bed. The rounded form of the barbados cherry on the left works well with the new cacti. I wanted this island bed to be low in profile to help “widen” the view and make more of an airy scene. See the spikey Sotol on the right?…

I caught it later in the day with a setting sun behind it. I love this
razor-blade of a plant. I have a new tiny one planted in my circular

Right here. Now I have to wait for about four or five years.  

One final “spikey,” the blood filled thorns on this agave look lethal.  “So that is vere I left them”.
Great color contrast.

From the spikey to the soft forms of this succulent getting ready to flower.

Other observations observed this week in the patch…

My Bulbines are in full bloom right now all around my yard. Common names: snake flower, cat’s tail, burn jellyplant (Eng.)
I love the structure on the top flower, very “Close Encountery.”

The name “Bulbine” comes from the Latin word
bulbus meaning an onion or bulb.

Some interesting scarring on this giant timber bamboo resembles ancient cave paintings.
Staying with giant timber bamboo for a second… did you know…

It can double as a great natural alcatraz for an unruly child,
(as long as the social services don’t find out).
Another great reason to grow it.

A dandelion glass ball (thanks M!) is a new addition, tucked into one of my cedar carcasses in the middle bed.

First new growth is appearing on my brugmansia.

“Hey! is that little guy imitating my strut around that cacti and succulent bed?”

And to end on a tropical note…

My containered black bamboo, Phyllostachy Nigra. This bamboo can reach the same diameter as my giant timber bamboo!  I would love to here from anyone around Austin who has grown this bamboo in the ground, in terms of spread, growth, soil conditions etc.

Stay Tuned For:
“All Creatures Great and Small”
All material © 2009 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


~ by eastsidepatch on February 5, 2009.

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