There were a few Aechmea fasciatas around when I started this job almost a year ago. I don't know when they'd been brought in; some of them may have been as recent as spring 2007. At least one had dying flowers still on it last August, so it would have been a semi-recent bloom; the others might have been from any time at all, I suppose.
But anyway. They produced offsets, as A. fasciatas will do, and at some point WCW removed the offsets and planted them up separately in their own pots and that was that. I didn't really think about it much after that; I'd always thought that if you don't force them to bloom (as growers often do), it's always at least a two-year wait for offsets to bloom, and more often three.
But a couple of the offsets are blooming now. And I'm realizing, from looking at them, that I've probably never seen Aechmea flowers this early in development before. As they get older, the color gets sort of flatter-looking, somehow, which is maybe why I was never that interested in them. But these -- these are kind of awesome. The individual bracts shade from pink at the base up to a lighter pink or maybe even white at the tip, there's a whole yellowy thing going on in the center of the bloom, it all just kind of rocks.
I like Aechmea fasciata anyway, of course (though possibly not as much as some people). It's been relatively easy to grow, and it's got an interesting look, and perhaps more to the point it's awakened a latent appreciation for bromeliads that I hadn't been aware of, to the point where now I have seventeen of them (four Aechmea fasciata, one Vriesea imperialis, two types of Cryptanthus, six Guzmanias, one Neoregelia 'Fireball' and a Neoregelia 'Gazpacho,' a Tillandsia cyanea, and a Vriesea splendens. All of which will someday be the subject of plant profiles.).
But these emerging flowers are something else.
If things go the way they usually go, they'll sell before the blooms progress much further, and that will be that. But it's been very exciting, actually. I never cared whether my blooming plants were actually going to bloom for me or not, and I still don't, insofar as all my plants made it in the apartment on the merits of their foliage, and nobody's going to get kicked out for failing to flower, but it would be awfully sweet to have an Aechmea flower of my own to watch, where it can't get sold out from under me. 'Cause I am getting kind of interested in the end of this story.