Well, it’s almost here …… we couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it! Some of you may have guessed that we’re talking about the blooming of Eve and Mikl’s Agave parryi, aka Century Plant, which was planted 27 years ago. Last summer, Eve started whispering to it, suggesting that it might be time to think about blooming.
And this year, on April 28th, the center of the large rosette of stiff, fleshy, dagger-tipped, blue-gray leaves opened up to reveal a center of deep purple bracts with a subtle pointy tip in the middle. We knew then that the Agave had taken the hint. Over the days and weeks, the stem holding that pointy tip projected a 2.5” – thick column higher and higher, looking like a gigantic spear of Purple Passion asparagus! Its current height, not counting the 15” rosette, is 14.8 feet! In the past two weeks, the tight cluster at the top has gradually opened into a spiraling candelabra of 27 short branches (one for each year??), each bearing several dozen burnt-orange flower buds.
The spectacle unfolding right at the front corner of the garden has created a great deal of wonder and passionate interest among the people walking, bicycling and driving by, with folks coming back time and again, even daily, to check its progress, photographing it, and bringing their friends and families to see it. We’ve met a lot of lovely people!
Sometime soon, the buds will begin to open, from the bottom up. The cup-like flowers will be orange, and they will hold a lot of nectar, making the hummingbirds very happy. They should also draw other nectar-feeding birds that we seldom see, like Bullock’s Oriole, Western Tanager, and maybe even Orchard Orioles (I saw one in our garden last year – stunning!). Mikl will have to bring home his 3-legged ladder so we can take good close-up photos to send you!
Agaves are sturdy and long-lived, but when a rosette blooms, it expends so much energy that it subsequently dies. However, during all those years prior to blooming, the agave has produced a number of what we call ‘pups’, under and around itself. So there’s another generation already present to take the bloomer’s place, giving years of carefree beauty in our xeric garden!
You may be happy to know that we have plenty of hardy Agave plants for sale at Harlequin’s. And that you may not have to wait 27 years for your Agave to bloom; the one that bloomed in the ‘xeriscape rock garden’ at the nursery in 2014 was only 14 years old.