Posted by: lornasass | January 21, 2012


Photo of agave by Lorna Sass

We are leaving Sonoma after a glorious month of sunshine, freshly-picked produce, and magnificent cactus and succulents of all kinds growing with abandon as if they had all the space in the world–which they do.  We are heading back to snow, cold, and boxed arugula flown from here across the country to New York City.

Dear reader, I guess you can tell that it’s hard for me to get excited about the prospect of going home.

My friend Gerhard Bock, who lives in nearby Davis and blogs about planting a succulent and bamboo garden in his front and back yards, knowing how I share his madness for these beauties, offered to send me home with some plants and cuttings.  How could I say “no?” 

I couldn’t resist the idea of bringing some of California home with me.

Yesterday I started packing.  Well, truth be told, I started packing in my head a few days ago.  I knew that the cuttings would easily fit into my suitcase.  What presented a real challenge was the large agave plant he offered me and I couldn’t refuse.  It took up half of my 24-inch suitcase.

I went to sleep last night feeling relieved that I’d managed to fit the agave plant in.  Then I remembered what I knew all along:  I really didn’t have the space for this large, handsome beauty in my NYC apartment.  Furthermore, I decided it would be cruel to consign the agave to a pot when it would be much happier growing right here in California where it had a chance to spread its roots in the kind of soil it was accustomed to.

This morning, I took it out of the suitcase.  I felt an immediate sense of relief,  I will gift the plant to a friend with a large garden.

And I will go home lighter but still very much enriched by all we have seen and done here–and with cuttings of other beauties that will –with a hope, a prayer, and some tender loving care–take root after their cross-country jaunt.   And the I’ll have daily reminders of the great pleasures of miniatures.


  1. Lorna – I wish I’d known you were in CA – I would have made a way to come and see you! I am just a few hours away! Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself, and hope the rain doesn’t delay your departure – but we do need it!

  2. Tolstoy put it another way, “How much land does a man need?” Our relations with the material world change as we examine them: you now have that lovely photograph and the knowledge that the agave is happy where it belongs — perhaps better than bringing the object home and scuffling to find space for it.

  3. Lorna, don’t feel bad about leaving the agave behind. I’m happy that it brought you joy for a week–and that your friend will be able to enjoy it. Soon it’ll have babies and your friend can pass them on to others friends….

    I’ll find a dwarf agave for you that will be perfectly happy living in a pot!

    Have a safe trip home!

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  4. Ah, but the great majesty of New York in the snow awaits you–the park in all her leafless glory, the rooms of the Met, the Empire State Building with her wardrobe surprises, the inviting cellar of Small’s– we may not have that California bounty here, but we do have the farmers of Tivoli, who come down diligently every week to bring kale and pears from Dutchess County even in the winter. And we always know the well-worn deerpath between New York and California is open and welcoming. So don’t worry, you’ll just have both, that’s all.

    • Love your attitude, girl!

  5. Bring some Californias sunshine home with you.
    Fresh produce makes the best meal along
    with freinds. Hope to see you and Michael
    along the musical trail
    Susie Miyata

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