On the rockery above the top lawn at Trebah the Agave americana, known as the 'century plant' as it is very slow growing, sent up a flower spike back in the autumn resembling a giant asparagus spear after growing in the garden for some 25 years.
The wait now is almost over as the bud has started to open and the clusters of yellow flowers will soon appear. We measured the height of the spike using a tape measure taped to a dinghy's mast and recorded a height of 6m.
In Mexico drinks are made by cutting off the flowerhead and collecting the rising sap - up to 1000 litres per plant! The sap is fermented and can be distilled to make tequila.
Agaves are monocarpic, meaning they bloom just once in their lifetime and will die after flowering. The extraordinary flower spike grows way out of the reach of grazing animals and is pollinated by insects, bats and humming birds. As the mother plant dies it can no longer support its towering stalk and when this topples, it propels its offspring to the earth. Agaves are nothing if not determined to reproduce.