What's blooming at Baltimore's Rawlings Conservatory?
Talk about your glass ceiling....
The staff at Baltimore's Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park have had to remove a pane of glass in the ceiling to make room for a spire from an agave plant that should bloom any day now.
For the first time since the Conservatory was renovated in 2004, the huge agave, already impressive at over 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide, is expected to shoot a long spike of flowers through the roof, possibly reaching a height of 25 feet.
This dramatic plant started sending out its flower spike around September 17 and is growing fast, gaining almost 4 feet in less than a week. Conservatory staff removed a pane of glass from the greenhouse roof to allow the spike to continue growing toward the sky. William Vondrasek, Chief of Parks for Baltimore City, has described it as the park’s “own beanstalk.”
Agaves are native to Mexico but can also grow in the southern and western parts of the United States. In the wild, agaves can take up to 30 years to bloom. Most plants die after flowering. Not to worry though, because they send out “pups” or smaller plants that will grow from the crown of the original plant.
This particular variety, an americana marginata, has thick, green leaves with creamy yellow stripes that can grow to over 7 feet long.
Be careful. They are lined with razor sharp hooks. The flowers will be a yellowish green and should last about three weeks.
Kate Blom, the greenhouse supervisor boasts "it's the opportunity of a lifetime for the plant and for our visitors.”
Operating hours are Wednesday – Sunday 10am to 4pm. The Conservatory is located at 3100 Swann Drive in Druid Hill Park at the intersection of McCulloh Street and Gwynns Falls Parkway. There is no admission but a small donation of $3.00 is encouraged. The phone number is 410-396-0008.