Five exotic Mexicans put on a stunning show


Eastbourne is celebrating an unprecedented horticultural success with the flowering of five exotic Mexican plants on the seafront this summer.

Agave Americana are known as century plants because they can reputedly live for up to one hundred years before blooming, although 30 to 40 years is more common, and then die shortly afterwards.

These once-in-a-lifetime events are unusual sights in the UK and now Eastbourne is boasting five flowering at the same time, two in the Tank Enclosure near the Redoubt Fortress and three on the roadside border near the Wish Tower.

The tallest has lain dormant for about 40 years until this summer when it shot up 20ft in the last two months in a huge growth spurt that is typical of the agave species when they flower.

Eastbourne Borough Council expert staff who care for the town’s parks and gardens are delighted at the extraordinary spectacle of having five flowering at once.

Simon Hurt, open spaces specialist advisor at the council, said, “It is a really exciting time for Eastbourne.

“In the UK, Agaves draw a lot of attention when they eventually flower as this isn’t their natural habitat as they need well-drained soil and protection from hard frost.

“In their homeland of Mexico and, more recently in many Mediterranean countries where they are commonly planted, agaves are often in bloom but to have one flowering in a town is a cause for celebration, let alone five!”

He added that Eastbourne’s mild climate and seafront locations have been a major contributor to their flourishing.

Councillor Steve Wallis, Eastbourne Borough Council’s cabinet member for place services, said the exotic display would entice visitors to see the other beautiful green sights the town has to offer.

Councillor Wallis said, “Eastbourne has wonderful green spaces, including our world famous carpet gardens, which are home to a wide array of unusual garden plants and trees originating from all around the world.

“Having five Agave plants flower at the same time is yet another reason for residents and visitors to come out and enjoy the town’s parks and gardens this summer.”

In the last 15 years, Eastbourne Borough Council has swapped high-maintenance bedding plants with palms and other perennials that are more sustainable and have lower water needs such as Agaves.

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