one agave, eight ways (december bloom day)

Agave attenuata spike emerging from plant

Agave attenuata spike middle range

For December 15’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day I’m trying something new. Instead of showing you all the almost ever-blooming things in the garden I’m highlighting a single plant, the foxtail agave (Agave attenuata) that’s finally blooming after a decade and a half in the ground. I posted before on how the monster bloom spike has collided with some some nearby plants. Over the weekend the thousands of buds on the spike began to open.

Agave attenuata spike with flowers emerging from plant

Agave attenuata stalk as seen from below

In homage to artists who take one subject and try to make it interesting in multiple ways, here are some of the first photos of the plant in bloom. I’m not sure which is my favorite photo so far. Maybe the fourth? Maybe the fifth?

Still, it’s hard to begin to do justice to an awesome plant.

Agave attenuata colliding with Aloe beharensis 2

Agave attenuata flowers closeup 2

Agave attenuata flowers and buds

Agave attenuata flowers closeup

Sphaeralcea ambigua

Eriogonum arborescens new flowers closeup

A few other things are blooming, but it’s December and the pickings are slim: a couple of California natives, some late-season blooms on Santa Cruz Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens) and first-of-the-season blooms on the desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua).

Oxalis purpurea before opening

Oxalis purpurea, early in the morning, before it’s fully expanded…

Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonorus coming back into bloom…

Senecio cylindricus flowers

Senecia articulata flowers

Senecio mandraliscae in bloom

When so little is in flower, you might pay attention to some of the less significant flowers on plants that are grown primarily for their foliage and structure. These three senecio species would only win “nice personality” in a floral beauty pageant (Senecio cylindricus, S. articulatus, S. mandraliscae).

In fact, the agave I showed earlier is a plant that’s most often used for its terrific architectural structure, in part because it flowers so infrequently. But when that one blooms, there’s no ignoring it.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day!

23 thoughts on “one agave, eight ways (december bloom day)”

  1. It’s definitely number 3 for my favorite shot. Number 7 is great, too. That bloom spike is magnificent, and I’m glad you showed it from all different angles, since I’ve never seen anything like it live.

  2. yes, the foxtail agave is striking in its structure AND color variations – an inspiring and refreshing look of the traditional holiday color scheme, don’t you think?

  3. Gorgeous photos of the agave. The fourth is my favorite, but I love the way they work all together to give you a sense of the plant. So, just 15 years till bloom, eh?

  4. #4 and #5 are great photos. I also really like #7. And the oxalis bloom unfurling is awesome. I posted 4 pics of the same plant on my bloom day post, mainly because I couldn’t decide which looked best and they showed the different views of the plant. I like your idea of focusing on one plant. You should think about doing it again in the future. You take great pics.

  5. What a great approach in honor of the late-coming agave. I think 4 & 5 are my faves, too, and I really like seeing the close-up of the single bloom. “ever-blooming” plants…sigh.

  6. Hiya James,

    It is snowing so I am staying indoors doing a belated GBBD round.
    That Agave is certainly majestic, but I find the unfurling oxalis very endearing.I wonder of the exotic cut-flower we can buy over here, Lisianthus, is in the same family.Your Christmas Card is HERE

  7. LOL, James. Had to laugh at the “nice personality” picture for our unspectacular little plant. Man, the “foxtail” Agave is well named. What a stunning bloom and your pictures are simply gorgeous.

  8. What a great idea to focus Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day on such a fantastic plant – if I had a plant like that growing in my garden, I’d want to highlight it as well…thanks for the beautiful photos!

  9. Thanks for all your comments, everyone! I really enjoy taking one thing and trying to make it interesting as many ways as possible–think of Northern Europe and the potato! (Hmmm…does that make the agave the equivalent of my potato?) For those of you who are bloggers, I’ve had a great time visiting your them recently, whether to see your bloomday posts or the other things going on in your gardens and lives. Carol has done a great service, giving us this great way to connect.

  10. Wow, I’ve been away too long…and obviously, the punishment is missing great photos like these. That agave is really quite something to see. Thanks for all these great shots.

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