Agave Agony


A sun-soaked stroll along the beach between Broadstairs and Ramsgate, picking up chalk pebbles and gnarled flints, ultimately leads us back to The Italianate Glasshouse in King George VI park. Through the delicate structure the solitary panicle of canary yellow blossom belonging to Agave americana still lurches defiantly into the sky. A thick blanket of white cloud now obscures the heavens. The first flowers, having opened just three weeks ago, are already turning brown and collapsing. The curious spectacle puts me in mind of Donald Trump’s wig stand.

Agave americana, The Italianate Greenhouse, Ramsgate, August 2015

Inside it’s a different story. The agave’s thick, plumptious leaves have started to sag downwards, flailing helplessly, pock-marked, yellowing and puckered near the central rosette. It’s as if something were sucking the very life out of the mighty plant. The death knell has sounded and the agave has begun its slow, ugly death.

Rain begins, coursing precisely down the armadillo form of the glasshouse, cascading from the apex of one pane to the top of the next in neat rivulets. It is as if the building were weeping for the plant which it has protected for the last 40 years.

Nearby a small offset no more than 2ft across languishes in a brightly glazed pot, witnessing its parent’s fate. A reminder of how the mighty fall and how life goes on.

The Italianate Glasshouse is open to the public from 9am to 5pm until September 30th 2015.

Agave americana, The Italianate Greenhouse, Ramsgate, August 2015