It’s a historic event at the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory. Two giant agave plants have begun their once-in-a-lifetime blooms just in time for the conservatory’s 125th anniversary.
“It’s as if they joined the [planning] committee” said Kate Blom, Conservatory Supervisor.
Built in 1888 at Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, the Rawlings Conservatory is the second oldest glass-enclosed conservatory in the country, and the last still standing in Baltimore. Blom estimates these agave plants are between 40 to 80 years old.
The Agave Americana was the first to show signs of blooming. On March 22, 2013, a large, asparagus-shaped stalk appeared from its center. Workers at the conservatory had to remove panes of glass from the roof to allow it to keep growing.
You can imagine the amazement the conservatory staff felt when they also found their second giant agave blooming. WBAL TV visited the conservatory on May 8, when the second stalk was just 10 days old. It was already getting ready to protrude the roof, see the video here: http://www.wbaltv.com/weather/ava-checks-out-giant-agave-at-rawlings-conservatory/-/9380898/20060418/-/o5346i/-/index.html
“You can practically come in here and each day you’ll see that it’s moved and grown,” said Blom.
Now in mid-May, individual flower stalks are starting to show up on the first plant. Any additional sunshine will likely help speed the process along. What the flowers will look like is anyone’s guess. No one has actually ever seen them before.
The sight will no doubt be bitter sweet. Agave plants bloom just once in their lifetime, always to signify that they’ve reach the very end of their life. So far, there’s no clear indication on whether or not the two blooms are connected. Last year, the Conservatory did a thorough soaking of the desert room where the plants live. Blom said that it’s possible that the abundance of water may have encouraged the plants to flower in an attempt to reseed.
A noble gesture by these plants, as the Conservatory ramps up its efforts to raise awareness and funds for its 125th anniversary celebration. According to Blom, more than 600 people have come to see the plants so far.
The conservatory is located at 3100 Swann Drive next to the Druid Hill Park Reservoir in Baltimore. They are open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but there is a suggested $5 donation. For more information, you can visit their website: http://www.rawlingsconservatory.org
By Ava Marie