Ocracoke nature, flora & fauna

Someday soon Seymour suddenly will bloom

'Seymour,' an agave century plant is about to bloom.

‘Seymour,’ an agave century plant is about to bloom.

Text and photos by Connie Leinbach

One of these days soon, Seymour will suddenly bloom, bask in a short glory, then die.

Seymour is a century agave plant that began as a small plant about a foot high 20 years ago and has been thriving in Cindy Fiore’s front yard ever since.

About two months ago, Fiore noticed a stalk growing out of its center.

“Then it just shot up so fast no one could believe it,” Fiore said as she and a reporter admired its height of about 30 feet.

Every day, she checks to see if it has bloomed.

“It only blooms once, then it dies,” she explained, and blooming is imminent.

“I’m betting for the summer solstice,” she said.

“Seymour” is so named for the musical-comedy “Little Shop of Horrors” that features a human-eating plant from outer space, named Audrey II, who cries out, “Feed me!”

Cindy Fiore with Seymour outside her Middle Road home.

Cindy Fiore with Seymour outside her Middle Road home.

Seymour, however, is the male lead character who harbors the plant. One of the songs is titled “Suddenly Seymour,” and “Seymour” is what came to Fiore’s mind one day after the giant stalk had made its appearance.

The unmistakable plant is a bold sentinel in front of her house at 347 Middle Road.

Fiore has adorned its hard, spike-edge leaves with odd objects over the years.  The most noticeable is a single, bejeweled woman’s sandal.

“I found it in the road and just hung it on one of the leaves in case whoever lost it came back to look for it,” she said.

As the bottom leaves wither from the outside in, Fiore has trimmed them off over the years, but that’s a delicate activity because of the plant’s razor-like edges.

“So many people see it and they don’t know it’s lethal,” she said. “You have to be super careful with these guys.”

Once, when she was trying to trim it, one of the leave’s points pierced her forehead.

“It went right through the skin to the bone,” she said. “That hurt.”

So, she and her partner Tim Fields will have to be super careful when they eventually remove Seymour.

While she’s waiting for Seymour to put on his show, Fiore continues to tend her garden that contains a variety of herbs, flowering plants and trees and decorative objects.
She mused, “Gardening is one of those things you co-create with nature.”

For the rest of Seymour’s story, click here.

For Ocracoke news, click here.

A blooming plant in Fiore's yard.

One of the blooming plants in Fiore’s yard.

A blue bottle 'bush' in Cindy Fiore's garden.

A blue bottle ‘bush’ in Cindy Fiore’s garden.