Isobel Johnston, 92, bought this agave as a small plant from a garage sale 20-plus years ago and now it’s something people stop to take a photo of in her front yard. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Isobel Johnston, 92, bought this agave as a small plant from a garage sale 20-plus years ago and now it’s something people stop to take a photo of in her front yard. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim succulent grows from garage sale into sight-to-see

Johnston said agave bought for one dollar 20-plus years ago

Sharing a lavender plant’s love for warm, dry weather, a Sequim woman and her late husband have taken advantage of the area’s sunny skies to make an agave succulent a centerpiece for their yard, and a sight for drivers along Fifth Avenue.

Ninety-two-year old Isobel Johnston said she purchased her agave about 25 years ago at a Sequim garage sale for a dollar. Then it was about the size of a baseball. Now it’s about the height of Johnston’s roof.

“I had no idea what I was getting for it,” she said.

Johnston, a retired stock clerk for Grays Harbor Chair and Manufacturing Co., and her husband William, a Hoquiam Plywood employee, moved to Sequim after retiring in 1991 for its nice weather.

She speculated that the agave came from Arizona, but admits at first she didn’t know what she bought.

“I used to have it in a little pot on my porch and for the first five or six years it didn’t do anything,” Johnston said.

The agave, however, began to grow and grow, so the Johnstons took out an antique hand plow sitting in a cement block circle in their front yard and planted the agave.

“It had gotten so big we couldn’t handle it anymore,” she said.

“We tied up its leaves and made a ramp and placed it in the hole as best we could. It was kind of crooked. Once we got it in the dirt though, it just took off.”

The Agave Americana can have a varying life span with some gardeners saying it can grow 25-30 years before a stalk grows out to bloom.

Once it blooms, it begins to die so other seeds from it can grow.

Johnston is mixed about its possibilities.

“I’d love to see it bloom, but I’d hate to see it die,” she said. “It’s fascinating, really.”

When it was first planted in the front yard, Johnston said many people asked for plant starts from it, but now the plant has grown so large she doesn’t think it’s safe for the plant to dig around it or people because of the agave’s sharp-tipped leaves.

Heavy snowfall in recent years hasn’t bothered it, she said, and it has a watering system connected to it. But with its size, Johnson assumes the arms have covered

the sprinkler heads.

“I’m not really sure if it’s getting water or not, but it seems to be doing fine,” she said.

A Hoquiam-native, Johnston loves knit, work on puzzles and, of course, garden. She said she’s been a gardener her whole life.

“There were nine of us kids, so we had to be gardeners,” she said.

Johnston and her husband William married at age 19 and prior to his death at the age of 90 on Nov. 28, 2018, they were about one month away from celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary.

They have two children, three grandchildren, multiple great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

When asked if the agave was worth the dollar, Johnston replied, “Boy I’ll say!”

After buying this agave years ago, it grew from the size of a baseball to nearly as tall as Isobel Johnston’s roof. She’s unsure if she wants it to bloom because then it would die. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

After buying this agave years ago, it grew from the size of a baseball to nearly as tall as Isobel Johnston’s roof. She’s unsure if she wants it to bloom because then it would die. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

After buying this agave years ago, it grew from the size of a baseball to nearly as tall as Isobel Johnston’s roof. She’s unsure if she wants it to bloom because then it would die. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

After buying this agave years ago, it grew from the size of a baseball to nearly as tall as Isobel Johnston’s roof. She’s unsure if she wants it to bloom because then it would die. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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