Twin century plants on Lynda Lee showing offPublished 12:05am Tuesday, July 3, 2012
NATCHEZ — When Gwendolyn Ford received two spiky plants from a friend 20 years ago, she thought she had two showy shrubs that would add a little pizazz to her front garden.
Little did she know that the real drama would happen two decades later — a once-in-a-lifetime show for her two agave plants that will die when they take their final bow later this summer.
Sometimes called “century plants,” the agave may seem like it takes 100 years to shoot out its 30-foot tall stalk of yellow flowers. The misnamed plant usually only lives between 10 to 30 years before flowering at the end of its life.
Ford did not know anything about the plants until their thin stalks appeared from the center of the spiky leaves growing like something out of the fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
“They just went crazy,” Ford said.
And so did the phone calls, knocks on the door and friends stopping her on the street inquiring about the show-stopping plants in her front yard.
“Many people have come by to take picture and ask if they can take a piece of the plant home with them,” Ford said. “For a long time I left a shovel out front for people to use to get them.”
Since April, Ford has been documenting the growth of the plant, e-mailing pictures to friends and posting to her Facebook.
“(The stalk) was getting taller and taller, growing straight up in the air,” Ford said. “So I decided to take pictures and started researching.”
That is when she found out her two large agaves will die soon after the blooms disappear. Thankfully, the plant has sent out shoots and started to regenerate, so Ford and area residents can look forward to another spectacular show a few decades from now.