20-year-old Century Plant blooms in Walker’s yard-garden
Mary and Marzett Walker’s flower garden on Hwy 13 north of Prentiss is an eye-catcher.
From the time the Snowball trees begin to bloom in early spring — and surround the house in clouds of white and various flowering plants and bushes burst forth with color throughout the summer and fall — the Walkers have something blooming and worth seeing in their yard garden on display to those passing by.
Many plant loving people stop in for an informal tour and make friends with the retired couple.
The Century plant has been one of Mary Walker’s most sought for plants.
“At the time I was looking for one there were none in this area and someone said they had some on the coast.
On a trip there I was directed to a lady who had some and got one from her.
I planted it close to the door but as it began to grow my husband complained so much of it sticking him going in and out that we moved it away from the house.
It didn’t slow it down growing. I guess it’s about twenty years old now”
Because the hard winter freezes had nipped the ends of some of the blades Walker cut them back and now the plant has somewhat of an appealing pineapple look to it. She states she has really not done anything else to the plant and it has continued to thrive.
On cutting the grass around the Century plant (so named because it was first thought to bloom only once in a hundred years) Marzett Walker was the first to notice something like a pole coming out of the plant and told his wife she had something different out there.
His wife tied a red ribbon around it to make it more visible and they continued to watch as the “pole” grew to around 16 feet tall and began to send out flowering stalks.
The name can be deceiving because the Century plant really does not take a century for it to bloom. It usually blooms in 15-25 years.
Because the flowering stalk grows so rapidly it depletes the energy of the main plant causing it to die and the “babies,” or shoots will take over. Its scientific common name is Parry’s Agave and is a member of the succulent and cactus family.
Its usual habitant is southeastern California, western Texas and south to northern Mexico. The plant usually likes dry, desert, rocky climates and so it is not the usual thing to see one bloom in the humidity of the south, however, there are some that obviously do.
“We always enjoy people stopping by to look at the plants and flowers. Some act like a child in a candy store. I’m happy my plants and flowers give joy and we’ve made a lot of friends of those who stopped by to enjoy them.”
Mary Walker says most of her flowering plants are in full growth right now and the main thing she is doing is trying to “keep the bugs from eating them up.”
If you travel north Hwy. 13 frequently keep an eye on the Century plant and watch as the buds on top of the “pole” open to full bloom. The plant is already producing “babies” at the base.
This is a rare opportunity to watch nature at its finest displaying its cycle of life.