Sunday, September 29, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--12th Week, Lefty's Bloom Clusters Declining

Lefty's bloom clusters display a dramatic dulling of color intensity from the previous week—brightness on May 13, drabness on May 20, as the above pixstrip shows. The pixstrip below shows the larger and zoomed-out older/newer side-by-side image.

My thoughts of the pix for that day:
The single stalk is still there! Unlike the previous few weeks, the stalk counts didn't go three, then two, then one, then none. It is only a matter of time before the property owners cut it down before it falls down. The view is another chance to see the progress, or decline, if you will, of the plant to its eventual end.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--11th Week, Oh Solo Me Oh!

So goes Righty. Actually Righty does go, but Lefty stays for now, all by itself. Peewee departed the scene the previous week. On this beautiful blue-sky day, solo Lefty looks magnificent, a great century plant specimen in its prime with bloom clusters resembling cheerleader pom-poms. The pixstrip shows the century plants for May 6 and May 13. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.)

I'm channeling Lefty, anthropomorphizing him in a short, chorus-part parody of O Sole Mio. You might also recognize the same tune for It's Now or Never.

Oh, solo me, oh.
Now by myself.
My buds ain't no mo',
Just Lefty's left.

How much time,
I've got to stay,
I don't know what's what,
I just don't know squat.
My thoughts of the pix for that day:
On Thursday, May 9, I drove by the corner to view the plants. Only one left. Thought about deliberately deviating from my Monday noonish pic shoot and taking pix Friday, but didn't. Crossed my fingers and hoped the property owners didn't have an order in for lopping the last one, as Friday, being a workday, might be a likely cutoff (g) day. Thought maybe I'd take pix Saturday. Nope. By the time Sunday rolled around, I figured I might as well shoot Monday.

Friday morning, I sent email to Portraits of Wildflowers blogger Steven Schwartzman that only one stalk remained. He wrote back shortly and replied that he noticed the previous day that only one century plant was left.

I took my usual diagonal-view pictures. For comparative pictures to newer angle ones that I took the previous week, I took some from across the street (1st pixstrip below) and from the right (2nd pixstrip).

The angle of the previous two weeks' rightside pix was about 45 degrees. For May 13, I stepped back farther so I could better frame Lefty in the background. That pic includes part of the tower, and the company's masonry sign is now right of the wooden pole, narrower than in the other two rightside pix.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--10th Week, Minus Peewee

Peewee's gone! The pixstrip shows the century plants for April 29 and May 6. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.) Lefty and Righty are in full blooms.  Lefty and Righty look to be in full robustness. Alas, poor Peewee. I suspect caretakers cut it down rather than risk having Peewee fall over onto a vehicle stopped in traffic, or pose a road hazard with downed stalk and bloom clusters.

Over the last few years, I've spotted some singular century plants in the initial sprouting stage. A plant would sprout a stalk, spread bloom clusters, which later are surrounded by busy bees boisterously buzzing bulky blooms, ... (Say that last phrase fast multiple times, why dontcha?) One day, the plant would be gone, or cut near the base.

Apparently, cutting a century plant down comes with hazards. Dave's Garden has a webpage that includes posts about stalk removals, with or without blooms. Apparently, the sap can be very painful and dangerous to contact.

My thoughts of the pix for that day:
On Friday, May 3, I received email from Portraits of Wildflowers blogger Steven Schwartzman that he took pix of the "the two remaining century plants". That meant one [plant] is missing, most likely, cut down. On Monday, May 6, I took my pictures and confirmed it was the leaning Peewee that's gone. Thus, the one [pic] I have for Monday, April 29 was the last one I have in my possession with all three plants. I feel lucky that I decided to take the pic last Monday (April 29) while Peewee was still there.

The main pic is the one that I've been taking from the square at the gas station. The second one is the view from the bank across the street. (Tossed out several pictures because of bad timing with cars in the way.) The third one is the view from about 45 degrees from the right. The two remaining plants look like leaners. We'll see how much longer they fare [fare well before the farewell, that is].
In my thoughts for that day, I had intended to use the second and third pictures as individual ones. For this article, I decided to make comparative composites of April 29 and May 6 images for both front and right side views.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--9th Week Peewee's 2x Leaning Angle

Uh oh. Peewee's leaning angle looks like it's doubled from one week to the next. The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pics for those April 22and April 29. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.) Except for Peewee's bigger leaning angle, the plants look nearly unchanged, seemingly finished with growth spurts and obvious bulking up.

Last week in article #8, I mentioned I'd have "more info about and by the knowledgeable someone … about multiple-stalk century plants". My curiosity about multiple-stalk century plants vs. the set of triplets I'd been writing about stemmed (grin) from the caption for Will and Mary Ross' picture (about 3/4 down the webpage) that indicated a single plant with three stalks— "he was so proud when it bloomed -- and three bloom stalks is rare".

From having read that when conditions were good, agaves grew their stalks and bloom clusters amazingly fast as their last gasp for reproduction. Seemed to me that all the energy could go into only one stalk. Anyway, Dave Moellendorf, at the Austin Cactus and Succulents Society plant sale on Saturday, August 31, 2013, explains how a single century plant can have multiple stalks. (Yes, I'd like you to visit my very first YouTube video production—1 minute and 15 seconds—for more information about Dave.)

My thoughts of the pix for that day:
Peewee is leaning quite lot more. Thinking it's only a matter of time before the property owners cut it, if not all three plants, for fear of hazard or damage to cars from falling over. One other century plant in that clump bloomed just about a year ago, but was cut down.

Today, I also took a pic from the bank across the street. Quite a different view, with Peewee not looking like a leaner. THOSE pix were hard to time for shooting because of numerous cars passing right in front of the plants or stopped, compared to POV from the gas station square. (From the square in front of the gas station, the plants look like they're inline and evenly spaced -> * * *. )
The three asterisks represent the plants' apparent alignment and spacing. The following across-the-street pic shows that Peewee is to the right side of the other two plants and all three plants lean somewhat. In the approach-from-right-side pic, which I did not mention in my blockquote, Peewee looks upright, and the other two plants lean to the left.
 
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--8th Week Lopsided Peewee

Happy Labor Day weekend, statesiders! In the April 22 image, the triplets are very robust. They all grew a little taller, and gained a smidge more bulk at the branches and bloom clusters. However, Peewee is looking unbalanced, maybe a bad sort of top-heavy. I initially thought that "leaning" would be a reasonable adjective for Peewee, but "lopsided" seems even better. The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pics for those April 15 and April 22. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.)

From TheFreeDictionary, a definition for "lopsided" that fits well is "leaning or inclined to one side". OTOH, "leaning" could be an appropriate adjective also.
departing or being caused to depart from the true vertical or horizontal; "the leaning tower of Pisa"; "the headstones were tilted"
Come to think of it, Peewee's angle is similar to that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Recently, a friend wondered about weight for a stalk and blooms. I was not able to find much information. Wikipedia had a general mention:
Each agave plant will produce several pounds of edible flowers during its final season. The stalks, which are ready during the summer, before the blossom, weigh several pounds each.
A few weeks ago, I emailed a plant-knowledgeable neighbor and asked if he might know the weight of a stalk and bloom clusters. He didn't know, but gave a guess that the stalk would have lots of water in it and that each flower cluster would be a few pounds. He suggested using geometry for calculating the volume of the stalk, then multiplying the volume by the the weight of water for the same volume.

Yesterday, at the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society 2013 Fall Show & Sale (Zilker Botanical Garden), someone helping out a vendor friend thought a stalk and bloom clusters could weigh a few hundred pounds until the plant dried out. Next week, I'll have more info about and by the knowledgeable someone for article #9 about multiple-stalk century plants.

Note: The sale continues today. In case you miss the sale, the webpage lists the expected vendors and contact info.

My thoughts of the pic for that day:
Even bluer day for taking pix! Blossoms more noticeably robust, especially at the tops. But, uh-oh, Peewee in the middle is leaning rightward. If property caretakers fret over possible fallover, they might cut the entire stalk before the agave finishes its natural course.

Just about a year ago, a century plant at the same location started blooming, reaching skyward, about the same stage these plants are now. Suddenly, it was gone. I'll see how the plants progress next week, keeping my fingers crossed for their existence.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
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