Ever since our first trip to Andalucia, I have loved seeing the agaves that dot the landscape.
Imagine my joy, when blessed with my first garden here, to find there was an agave on one of the banks. The plant had flowered, probably a year or two ago, and its huge flower spike made a fabulous feature.
I decided that I would see what I could do about putting some lights on it for Christmas, as its shape seemed ideal for dressing up as an exotic Christmas tree substitute.
We loved that plant.
Last weekend, Juan, our Spanish neighbour, appeared in the garden. I thought he had come to chat about the chickens. We spoke briefly, and then he climbed up the bank. “How very odd!” I thought. Then I noticed he had a saw in his hand.
Without any sort of explanation, preamble or polite “would you mind?” he proceeded to cut down the agave mast and drag it out of the garden.
Dumbstruck. Gutted. Horrified. Indignant. Any or all of the above. I am not even sure if I would have been able to give him a reason why he should not cut down my beautiful agave, other than “because its in my garden, and I don’t want you to spoil it.”
I did not have the opportunity to find out whether my Spanish was good enough for that conversation.
Apparently, he told one of the other neighbours he was going to use it for something for his hen house. The long, straight stem is incredibly strong, and they are often used as roof beams. I assume that with the house having been empty for some time, he has lost the concept of not just making free with the property. But why take mine, when there are loads growing wild within spitting distance?
The fact that he trimmed the bits off that he didn’t want, and left them all over the ground just outside our garden is an indication that it was simple laziness. Why walk fifty yards and cut a homeless agave, when you can nip into your neighbour’s garden and pinch theirs?
Rosemary and I found the dismembered remains when we went to pick some wild spinach for the chickens. They were such attractive things that it seemed that we too would be philistines if we just left them lying around. We gathered up the pieces of our fallen friend and took them back to the house.
A few days later, with a bit of ingenuity, some wire, some bamboo canes cut from the rambla and some gold spray, we found a use for them. It may not be the last word in elegance, but I feel much happier having done something cheerful with what we were left.
We have plans afoot for an agave Christmas tree, but I’ll tell you about that some other time.