During my visit to Chicago this past weekend, I made a quick stop at Garfield Park Conservatory to witness the Agave that has begun its flowering, a process that can last up to a year and only happens once in a plant’s lifetime. The flower stalk had grown so tall that conservatory staff had to remove panels from the roof of the Desert Room, as the tip of the stalk now stands 2-3 feet above the roof.
Though I’d seen an Agave blooming at the ABQ Bio Park while visiting New Mexico years ago, I wanted to see this one in particular since I’d never seen one bloom indoors. From my perspective on the floor of the Desert House, it looks like the flower buds are just starting to form. The sign at the base noted that there will be between 50,000 and 100,000 individual flowers when it is in full bloom.
There’s something about sharing a moment with a plant during its once-in-a-lifetime moment. After flowering, this agave will slowly fade and die. For some, this moment might be sad or bittersweet. But for me it was amazing to see the Agave reaching for the sky, bursting through the roof to fulfill its destiny. It was simply, slowly, and powerfully doing what it has spent more than five decades doing — preparing itself to flower.
If only we could have that clarity of purpose in our decades on this earth.