Hemelt: LaPlace Century Plant bloom offers beauty after rain

Published 12:04 am Saturday, June 10, 2017

It’s important to note that even when our community is still drying off from what seems like five feet of rain, there are many things around us in bloom.

I was delighted recently when reader Joan Fagan Landeche reached out to me about an exciting development in her LaPlace garden.

The Foxwood Lane resident was excited to share news of her Century Plant, which she said only blooms every 20 years.

According to Joan, the stalk that grows out of the center can reach up to 40 feet, adding hers is approximately 30 feet high and 18 to 20 years old.

The blooms range in color from white, yellow, orange or purple, and her neighborhood is on “Century Plant watch,” with many guessing what color it’s going to bloom.

She said this week the plant has hinted at blooming but hasn’t opened up, letting the excitement play out at a deliberate pace.

Joan’s mother, Louise Fagan, was an avid gardener. She and her dad, John A. Fagan, created beautiful canvases on earth, according to Joan, with their variety of camellias, bridal wreaths, azaleas and roses.

All were nestled under majestic pine trees on more than an acre of land in Hammond.

The couple received many Garden of the Month awards and those efforts planted in a young Joan’s mind that true beauty comes from caring for your own special garden.

Joan said her neighbor across the street from her family camp in Montegut gave her a baby Century Plant off of their Mother Plant, adding the winds off of Bayou Terrebonne broke the more than 40-foot stalk just before the blooms opened.

The baby plant, which needed decades of care, was a perfect gift for Joan, an artist and teacher in her own right, who enjoys painting from what Mother Nature creates.

“I photograph all varieties of flowers, wildlife and swamps,” Joan recently told me. “In the past, I worked for five years as a contract artist for Ducks Unlimited. I painted decoys of species of ducks and also ducks on canvas. I have captured every flower and tree in my garden on canvas. One of my magnolia paintings proudly hung in Judge Mary Becnel’s office.”

Asked if there was anything she had not planted that she would like to try, Joan said “no,” adding she is content with her many beautiful plant and flower experiences.

“My small yard consists of roses, magnolia trees, a palm tree, a rain tree, tomato plants and bridal wreaths,” Joan said. “At my camp, I have magnolia trees, an Arizona Ash, oak trees and red maple trees. We have a small lake behind our home where I photograph ducks, herons, turtles and other wildlife. Our ducks return every spring to lay their eggs and raise their young.”

It’s a wonderful view the LaPlace gardener and artist cultivated over years of passionate service to nature. One that I am sure offers the promise of a beautiful view whenever storm clouds inevitably shade our surroundings.


It was a year ago Ochsner Medical Complex – River Parishes officials said they were moving their campus location from Rue de Santé to a new freestanding facility near Tiffany Drive and Airline Highway in LaPlace.

Motorists along Airline Highway have seen the progress and are guessing when it will open. The initial forecast was summer of 2017 and those in the know say August is now the target month. The public is sure to get more information July 12 when Ochsner and the River Region Chamber of Commerce host breakfast networking event Chamber Perks from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at 1900 W. Airline Highway. The public is welcome.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.