While This Agave Gently Weeps

Poor lonely Agave, with barely any plants for company, languidly waits for El Niño to come and wash away the bare soil surrounding its forlorned leaves.

The agave is weeping because not only are we in a multi-year drought in California, now we are headed for a catastrophe of biblical proportions.

EL NIÑO!!!!! (shrieks are heard in the distance)

The warm waters in the Pacific will herald in unprecedented winter storms, and all sorts of hell will break loose.

Why? Because there has been so little rain, the soil has forgotten how to soak up water. People have let their plants wither and die, so there is very little ground cover on residential properties. There will be mudslides everywhere!

I know I sound like a doomsayer, and I’ll take that. I don’t WANT to be the one who sees tragedy coming, but I can’t help it! Everything Los Angelenos have been told about how to deal with the drought has been completely wrong, in my opinion. Instead of allowing people to let lawns go fallow, there should have been mandated re-plantings, not just rebates for eventual replanting. A healthy garden planted with a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, succulents,and grasses is a superior water holding device than any rain barrel (which they are giving rebates for btw). The underground network of roots, penetrating to varying depths, would have stabilized soil and held hillsides in place. The gardens would have added to this large city’s greenspace and helped to offset the heat island effect – but Los Angeles has less planted space than it had before, when it should have more.

To gardeners like we Ranters, what I propose makes sense – but it is completely counterintuitive to the norms, who think plants use water, we are low on water, so we must get rid of plants, right? THAT is basically what has happened in this city. It seems that nobody in charge of planning how to respond to a drought spoke to any horticulturalist about the matter.

So here we wait for yet another Apocalypse. Living in Los Angeles is like being in the 90’s tv series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” – there is always an apocalypse around the corner. This one is THE DELUGE. We are being told to fix our roofs and clean our gutters and sandbag our hillsides. But no matter what we do, we have the feeling it is not enough, because the forecasters are telling us HOW BAD THE RAINS WILL BE. We will all die, of course. Die ironically watery deaths, after years of dry dry dry.

Sigh. I’m weeping along with this depressed agave. Think about me as the Deluge approaches, and pray your Sad Little Ranter doesn’t get swept away in a slide of mud from the unplanted hillside above her house! I TOLD THEM!!!

(sounds of me and my agave friend, sobbing gently…)


Posted by

Ivette Soler
on October 28, 2015 at 3:31 am, in the category Real Gardens.

Comment List

  • Saurs 04 / 03 / 2016

    Great point about attacking (mostly symbolics) lawns without recommending, requiring, or incentivizing a renovation of the pre-existing landscape (rather than merely its destruction). We need to start subsidizing the planting of climate-appropriate shade trees, the kind that will reduce hydrophobic soils, provide comfort to people and shelter for animals, reduce heating / cooling costs (as much of an environmental problem as lush, residential lawns), and counteract erosion. This is not an impossible task, provided local and state governments aren’t controlled by self-styled anti-government “outsiders” who think slashing public works budgets is a responsible, rather than self-defeating and nihilistic, act.

  • Chris N 25 / 08 / 2016

    The planners obviously didn’t talk to any ecologists, hydrologists or soil scientists either, all of whom could have warned of the consequences of these policies.

  • admin 31 / 08 / 2016

    Looks like CA is reverting back to what some historians say is the norm, desert.

  • Saurs 20 / 11 / 2016

    The bulk of populated southern California (coast to western San Berdoo and Riverside counties) was never a desert, though. Chaparral shrublands and mediterranean biomes are distinct from deserts.

  • admin 21 / 11 / 2016

    I think the loss of the aquifers (and the sinking of the land which then eliminates what was an aquifer forever) might well turn SoCal into a desert.

  • admin 21 / 11 / 2016

    I didn’t intend my comment to be boastful.

  • anne 21 / 11 / 2016

    Has anyone brought the planners (or policy-makers) a presentation with suggestions/advice? I would not be at all surprised if they just don’t know enough to ask the right questions….

  • Meg 21 / 11 / 2016

    The real problem is, no matter whether you call it chaparral or desert or whatever — it’s still a place that was never intended to house millions of people. Yes, some things would help, but they’re never going to be enough.

  • skr 22 / 11 / 2016

    There is nowhere on the planet that was “intended” for anything.

  • skr 22 / 11 / 2016

    The built environment obviously exempted.

  • Michael Arnold 23 / 11 / 2016

    What do you mean there is no water? You’re sitting next to the single largest body of water on the planet, the Pacific Ocean. Salt water can be desalinated and used for drinking water. Sure, there is the sticker price to be considered, it is substantial, it would cost tens of billions to build and operate. Dubai does it, and they almost rely on it 100% because their climate is far more severe than California’s SW sector. It’s time for Cali to join the big leagues an pony up for decades of squandering several states water. The cost it would have been to build that kind of facility, is much cheaper than the damage Cali has cost the whole region. Dubai had visionaries for their water, they’ve already socked away enough reserve water to last past 2020, what has Cali done lately? Squandered everyone’s water and your money, all for nothing.

  • admin 23 / 11 / 2016


  • anne 23 / 11 / 2016

    “The southwest is arid, but northern California, Oregon, and Washington, all western states, are far from desert like.” Ivette, since the subject came up: you might be surprised at how arid much of the Pacific Northwest is. Three-fifths of Oregon is high desert–a little-known fact to those from elsewhere, as most of the people, towns and roads are west of the Cascades, which are quite moist (the rain shadow effect dries things out pretty fast to the east). However, we had extreme drought conditions this past year. Our local irrigation district put us on rotations (3 1/2 days on, 3 1/2 off), and some were cut off for part of the season. El Nino for us means warmer, drier winters. If we do not have a snowpack this winter in the mountains, next year will be severe. We are closely watching our neighbors to the south!

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