Was walking in the garden today and noticed that the remaining branch of Mr. Happy wasn’t looking so happy.

Upon closer examination the thick branch attaching it to the main trunk had snapped.  This was pretty common in the lower branches of this plant. They were just too heavy to support their weight.

And thus ends the two-year saga of Mr. Happy.  His remains are now in the green waste bin. Better for it to happen now then when the plant was about to bloom.

Now I have a big empty space. Maybe I’ll fill it up with some more Echiums or perhaps something new.



Goodbye Mr. Happy.

After almost a year of blooming my fasciated Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ was starting to look a bit sad. Our much-needed rains on Sunday did a number on him.

It was still blooming and being visited by bees but the overall look was not pretty so it was time to go.

I had to use loppers and a pruning saw to chop the beast down. It is definitely something to consider when you put a large but short-lived plant in your garden. Eventually you are going to have to dispose of the body and it might be a lot of work. I had to wear a sweatshirt and gloves too because the cystoliths (hairs as sharp as razors!) are impossible to avoid and are extremely painful.

One of the lower branches is in really good shape so I left it and hopefully it will bloom this year (and hopefully it won’t be fasciated!).

The diameter of the trunk where I cut it was six inches. It looks like a damned tree!

From this angle the remaining trunk looks good as new. You would never know that there was a llama shaped beast attached to it earlier.

The ecosystem on this plant was amazing. Aside from the many happy honeybees and hummingbirds visiting the flowers for the past year it was also home to ladybugs (and presumably aphids for them to feast on though I didn’t see any), several different types of spiders, earwigs, cucumber beetles and all sorts of other little creepy crawlies living on the plant and the leaf litter. I almost felt a little guilty throwing it in my green waste bin.

But it was time for it to go, and hopefully a new generation is making a new home on the remaining stem, which is already three feet tall and three feet wide.


The west coast has had some unseasonably cold weather the past week or so. Here in Los Osos it got to at least 30 degrees a few nights. Possibly as low as 28 in the wee hours of the morning.

Aloe Moonglow was all set to bloom for the first time.

I went so far as to construct a little tent for it on the coldest night.

It didn’t work.

At least the plant is OK and it should bloom next year. But no gardener wants to see something like this. There are a few buds that were lower down on the plant that seem unharmed. Maybe it will still bloom. Or maybe we’ll get another cold snap! This is the danger with winter blooming Aloes.

Fuchsia spendens didn’t like the cold either. I’m really sad about this plant. It had been growing really slowly but finally I noticed a few weeks ago that it had really taken off. It must have really liked all the supplemental irrigation it got from the extra water I was giving the new plantings in this part of the garden. Still alive but this is a pretty big setback.

Fuchsia ‘Nettala’ is not happy either. In general Fuchsias would prefer to stay above freezing.

I’m really bummed about this Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’. It isn’t easy to find this inexpensively in a one gallon container around here and this one was so nice before it froze. The outer growth is mush. But the growing point of the plant still feels solid so hopefully it will recover. To be safe I am bringing this in at night for the time being.

Crap! I didn’t even realize that Musschia wollastonii was that sensitive to cold. On the plus side this opens up a space in my plant ghetto. I’ll leave it a bit to see if it recovers but I am doubtful.

Not sure how obvious it is from the photo but Crassula ‘Campfire’ is total mush.

I am actually not too unhappy about this Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’. It was covered in mealybugs. It is also really easy to grow from cuttings if it doesn’t bounce back.

Nooo! This Isoplexis isabeliana is brand new! I noticed that a lot of the plants that saw the most damage had recently been potted up into bigger pots. Could be a coincidence but it might have made them more susceptible to damage.

On the plus side my crazy, deranged, fasciated Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ is still blooming. Not at all bothered by the cold weather.

As soon as it warms up each day the bees can be found buzzing around happily.

It has been in bloom now for about 8 months and doesn’t really show any sign of slowing down. If the cold weather didn’t stop it I’m not sure what will. If you look closely around the flowers you can see the white hairs that cover the foliage.  They are as sharp as glass so I don’t advise getting too close. Something I learned while trying to collect seed. I’ll just let it go to seed on its own and keep my hands away from it.

How has the weather been where you are? I can take comfort in the fact that at least I am not in Portland, Oregon where they had temperatures in the teens.

Mr. Crazy

So Mr. Happy has been blooming for over 3 months now. Because of the fasciation of the main stem he ended up being all twisted crazy and topped out at a bit over 8 feet tall.  People don’t quite know what to make of him and I have had many passersby stop and take a look (and a few have wandered right into the bed to get up close. Don’t do that folks. Gardeners hate that.).

The bees and hummingbirds go crazy for the flowers.

For a while the top looked like a deranged outstretched muppet hand.

It looks like it is going to grab someone doesn’t it? Maybe one of those rude people who wander into my flower beds.

The top keeps twisting and curling as it grows. Tons of seed forming so it will be interesting to see if I get a lot of seedlings. As you can see there is still one large rosette at the base that didn’t bloom so perhaps it will survive another year.

I wasn’t too happy at first about the fasciation but now I think it is pretty cool.

Mr. Happy you are KILLING me!


Yesterday went out into the garden and noticed that Mr. Happy had lost one of its three foot long lower side branches. It was covered in buds too.  Grrrr…

Upon closer examination this morning I think it was just too heavy to support itself at the 90 degree angle it was growing. Its trunk was pretty massive and it weighed quite a bit. The whole plant is pretty sturdy and it was on the side that is shielded from the worst wind so I don’t think that was the problem.

The rest of the plant has quite a few buds though at this rate I hope there is something left to bloom!


Mr. Sad

I think I mentioned last month that my Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ was showing signs of fasciation. Pretty disappointing as it is on its main stem. Fasciation occurs when there is some sort of damage done to the growing point of the plant. It causes flattened crested and ridged deformed growth. I can live with it when it is just one of many stems on a smaller plant but I am pretty sad about this. This stem that may not live up to its potential of fifteen feet of pink blooms.

You can see that even the forward facing leaves on the fasciated stem (the top right one) are a smaller and deformed compared to the rest of the plant.

Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ is a hybrid of E. pininana and E. wilpretti. This specimen is still pretty impressive at more than 3 feet across but I’m afraid it won’t live up to its potential.

You can see how bad the cresting is. Completely flattened and deformed. In fact I don’t think I have ever seen fasciation this bad. I guess because the stem is so big everything is magnified.

I guess it is pretty interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when it starts blooming. I have an Echium pininana too but it is showing no signs that it is going to bloom this year. When it does hopefully it won’t be fasciated!