Exotic plants flower in Eastbourne

Eastbourne is celebrating 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 100 years before blooming, although 30 to 40 years is more common. They then die shortly afterwards.

These once-in-a-lifetime events are unusual sights in the UK and now Eastbourne has 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.

Simon Hurt, open spaces apecialist advisor at the Eastbourne Borough 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.

In the last 15 years, the 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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