Sky-high plant delight for Lytham couple

Maureen and John Hall with the agave plant which has grown to 15ft high in their Lytham garden
Maureen and John Hall with the agave plant which has grown to 15ft high in their Lytham garden
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John and Maureen Hall were eager to bring some variety to their garden when they retired to Fylde.

The sandy soil at their new home in Lytham meant they had to have a complete rethink about what might be suitable after nurturing a Japanese-style garden in their previous base close to the Pennines.

Among the items John acquired to help adorn their garden in Hampstead Close was an imported Agave plant, which originates in Mexico and is alternatively known as a ‘tequila plant’.

But as they can take 25 years and more to flower and then usually only in hotter countries or indoor hothouse conditions, the couple didn’t hold out much hope of it bringing much colour to their particular locality.

Three years on, however, the Agave has grown to a towering 15 feet and has flowered - to the delight of John and Maureen and leaving them wondering just how the plant has managed to apparently defy expectations.

“We bought several Agaves but this one has left the others standing in terms of growth,” said long-time keen gardener John, who, with Maureen, ran a schoolwear business in Rochdale for many years up to their retirement.

“We are unsure of exactly what variety it is as it is a hybrid and it just grew steadily initially but suddenly in May, it started to produce a stem which grew at the date of five or six inches per day.

“It is soaring now to about 15 feet and it has flowered, which according to the extensive research we have done, usually only happens in places as hot as Mexico or perhaps Spain or, in this country, in botanical garden greenhouses further south than here.

“We can only imagine it is perhaps something to do with the wonderful summer we had last year and it is lovely, especially considering the flowering is so rare - but it is important we nake the most of it. As the Agave plant is moncarpic, the fact it is flowering is rather bittersweet. Once it flowers, it sets its seed and then unfortunately dies.”

The Agave tequilana variety of the plant is an important economic product of Jalisco, Mexico, due to its role as the base ingredient of tequila. The high production of sugars named agavins, mostly fructose, in the core of the plant is the main characteristic which makes it suitable for the preparation of alcoholic beverages.