Sunday, July 7, 2013

The century plant is past its prime.

For those of you who didn't make it by the house to see the sideshow in our cactus "garden," it's just about too late. The 30-ft century plant bloom is shaking off the yellow seed pods you see in the photo and leaning precariously toward the driveway. And yes, the other photo with the silhouette against the sky is actually the bloom, not a tree. The once healthy succulent thorny leaves have withered around the base. It looks "done for," in the words of Eliza Doolittle. 
A woman at the Charleston Farmers Market told me that the death of a century plant after blooming was a myth. "Don't throw it out!"
I tried to imagine myself gathering up this 8-ft in diameter mass of thorns from among the deadly mess that was once a beautiful desert garden. However, she was one of those people who answers what she thinks you will say before you open your mouth. Therefore, I smiled and left her to converse alone. 
Since we moved in our house, various visitors have told us that we had a century plant that would one day bloom and die. We have joked and laughed about the idea for years. Then a few years ago, the cactus became so large that it began growing arms into the driveway, scratching our cars with its 4- to 5- inch thorns. At that point, I began telling people that i was ready for the thing to
bloom and die!
Now here we are-the end of an era, but not really. It has produced at least ten more just like it--very healthy and growing well. And of course we have all those seed pods!! 

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