If you think this modern day affliction affects only humans think again. Mid April in the temperate house, and the giant succulent looked good back then, however in just 6 weeks, a Spring growing spurt has altered the appearance of this mighty showpiece to age beyond recognition.
The value of display plants has tended to be for their aesthetic beauty and novelty but when one does not conform, can there ever be a way of accepting an ageing appearance with equal value and position of importance? There is a theory that the plants which have been successfully established at least in the UK, are those which give us immense visual pleasure and wonder, notably the “good lookers”. Whilst the charismatic are planned to survive, the others gradually become extinct due to lack of interest due to their less “valued” appearances. Consider tulip production, bright and beautiful sells the flower.
For the giant agave in the temperate house, instead of maintaining an upright muscular prowess, a considerable amount of wrinkling and obesity has caused it to groan. The weight has all gone down to the lower body with the look of very unforgiving cellulite and a broad, spreading backside, straining so much it hurts to look at it.
We know weight doesn’t look or feel good, but lets be kind. Consider if plants have any social or anxiety issues. The agave is already an placed on one far end of the glass house on its own due to its great height, whilst the smaller, petite and prettily patterned flowering plants sit together, picking up admiration off the passing footfall. Could the isolation have initiated a comfort feeding binge due to loneliness? Now that we can see the effects, how does one put a terracotta bound giant succulent on a diet and therapy plan before the atrophy sets in?
For future, where comments may be made in passing such as “.. Now there’s a cracking pot…” it would be healthier all round, if the meaning of “cracking” was meant to be complimentary, and not because of breaking earthenware under strain of excess weight. But, but… this crinkly, creaking agave is happens to be at optimum health. In just 6 weeks, life in the greenhouse this succulent is just as it should be – at absolute bursting point as if it is going to explode. Those leaves are working super hard, pushing back for the stem to open up more height and flowers. The agave is in the right place after all, and the look is all as natural as it should be, and we really don’t have to question an “ugly” side, especially when it is more of a virtue to look a little dishevelled when working out.
Whilst our vanity and quest for beauty has the bigger say in the choice for nature, the planet’s essential and very mixed biodiversity will always compete against our expectations, it is definitely us who makes that choice and all our votes count. Personally, I’d like our fragile future to age gracefully in all its wierdness. Perhaps we can change our most shallow of values? If survival relies on it, that change is a simple vote in choosing to ‘accept difference’. That has got to be bring a better choice than extinction. Long live the agave and the bizarre we don’t like the look of, it’s been doing humanity a power of good where we let it.
© 2017 La Floralie 3