The team at Walnut Ranch Dental Spa began noticing something unusual was happening in their southwestern themed garden in early May. After being in place for a decade, their agave was beginning to sprout branches.
The staff was unsure what was going on until one of their patients informed them this plant is also known as a century plant because they are alleged to live 100 years before blossoming once — right before dying.
According to the USDCA, the term “century plant” is a bit of a misnomer. Though they do have a slow lifecycle, their typical lifespan is between 10 and 25 years. After blooming, the parent plant will die but leave behind “pups” at the base of its trunk.
Hygienist Rhonda Downing said the garden was first planted when they moved into their current location at 1610 Walnut Drive W in 2009. Dr. Brett Perry planted and maintained the garden himself as a tribute to his late father.
“Arizona was his dad’s favorite place to go, and he always loved the landscape and the plants,” Downing said. “Everyone always thinks this was professionaly done but it was not. Dr. Perry went down to Texas and bought all the plants. Then he brought them back here and put everything in.”
When Dr. Perry retired last year, Dr. Joe Treanor took over both the dental practice and tending the garden himself.
“Dr. Perry trained Dr. Treanor about how to take care of all the plants,” Downing said. “So our dentists are actually our gardeners as well!”
In addition to being a beautiful feature for patients, the local wildlife are also major fans.
“We have some birds, bunnies, squirrels and cats that like to come by,” Downing said. “Dr. Treanor goes out there and puts seed out for them every day. If he isn’t here or if we get a late start to the day, we have a couple of birds that will just sit on the window ledge outside and watch us until we go out to feed them!”
Downing said that the blossoming of the agave is a bittersweet moment for the entire team. Though they will miss the plant, they are looking forward to the beautiful show it will provide on its way out.