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Ramsgate’s, American Agave, The Century Plant

Just a short and very pleasant coastal walk from our holiday properties there is currently a rare and astonishing site.  Plant lovers and the simply curious are flocking to catch a glimpse, we thought we ought to share the news with our blog readers and prospective visitors to our lovely area:

A massive American Agave plant, situated in an early nineteenth century Italianate greenhouse a few hundred meters back from the sea, suddenly started a growth spurt in May 2015 and has since come bursting out through the roof of the greenhouse, getting ready to flower.

American Agave Plant in Ramsgate August 2015 seen from within theItalianate greenhouse

American Agaves (Agave Americana), flower just once in their lives and it generally takes them about one hundred years before they do it. The flowers are sensational, towering high above our heads as the spike of the plant protrudes out of the roof of the greenhouse, when we visited today, yellow blooms were just starting to appear and the spike had reached a height of thirty five feet.

The last one of these plants to bloom in the UK was fourteen years ago at the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh and the last one in the world was last year, in Michigan, USA, written about extensively as  “The Great American Agave Story”.

in the last few days press have been flocking to Ramsgate’s King George VI park to interview Phil and Janice Dabbs who take care of the greenhouse and recently opened a garden tearoom there. Here’s a piece in the Daily Mail, written by a reporter who was there at the same time as us! And here’s what the Telegraph wrote about it just the day before.

Janice serves up delicious cakes and scones at tables and chairs around the charming greenhouse tucked away in a corner of the park. It’s fair to say that before the coming of the giant plant many locals didnt even know the greenhouse was there. It had been neglected for many years but  has recently been fully restored to it’s former glory and the building itself is worth coming to see regardless of it’s now famous botanical resident. All the media coverage is already starting to attract more people. Fortunately there are plenty of tables and chairs and cakes for all the extra visitors the Agave is attracting!

And Phil is a architect so although it looks like the plant has come crashing through the glass window in fact its exit was made possible by some skillful removal of glass panes which will be lovingly restored once it has died back.

American Agave in flower at the Italianate Greenhouse in King George VI park Ramsgate

Hmm, the dying back bit will be tricky. A crane or cherry picker will be needed. That will be a sight to see. Obviously a hundred year old plant will do things in its own time so there are no guarantees how long the flowers or spike will be visible but it may be there until Spring next year, or it may be gone by September.

We warmly encourage you to go and visit the American Agave and the greenhouse. Make it part of a day out on your holiday with us: walking from Broadstairs to Ramsgate the plant is at the back of the King George VI park, as you enter from the top of the cliffs just after Dumpton gap beach, having walked along the coast from Viking Bay in Broadstairs, which has taken you not much more than twenty minutes. Once in the park, walk off the main path across the grass, going away from the sea and you will spot a large crenellated building behind the trees, which is the stables block for the manor house which used to be there. The greenhouse is on the far left of the stable block (as you face it with your back to the sea). Afterwards carry on through the park for another twenty minutes or so and you will be in Ramsgate harbour in time for more refreshments overlooking the marina there!

Ramsgate Marina

We’re very happy to be able to share information on yet another unique attraction in our local area for holiday makers and locals alike to enjoy. As we sign off we’re mindful that you might be reading this after the Agave has done its thing, so we ought to mention that it was one of a pair taken from a house in nearby Cliftonville in 1975. The other plant is also massive and looks like it could be ready to start it’s own growth spurt soon too!

If you’re coming to Ramsgate specifically to see the agave, perhaps you’ll stay with us in nearby Broadstairs, we offer high quality holiday accomodation and you can walk from there to see the plant, as well as many of the other local attractions around our delightful stretch of English seaside. Find out more about the wider area by reading our other blog posts or checking out the Visit Thanet website.