A Portsmouth pensioner has found himself the centre of local attention after his agave plant suddenly sprouted a 15ft spike.
Charles Weatherby, from Old Portsmouth, has owned the tropical plant for around 40 years, but found to his shock last week when he stepped outside his home that it was towering over him.
The retired carpenter, 80 said: ‘I came down one morning last week and I suddenly found a great big spike had grown out of it.
‘One of my neighbours was looking at it and he said “I thought I was seeing things”.
‘I looked it up in the book, my plant book, and it’s an agave and its going to have flowers, white flowers.
‘Other than that I’ve just looked at it and watered it nothing else.’
Since his plant suddenly sprouted the 15ft spike, Mr Weatherby has spotted plenty of people coming to take pictures of the new attraction with ‘camera phones’.
‘I feel like a bit of a local celebrity,’ he explained.
‘Lot of people have been taking picture.
‘I had never seen one before do this.
‘The only thing I've done is put an extra bolt in my front door in case it comes in one night because I don't know what it is.
‘It’s an interest to people.’
Mr Weatherby came across the agave plant in a school classroom several decades ago and has taken care of it ever since.
He said: ‘We were taking down the old catholic school in Edinburgh Road and refurbishing it.
‘In one of the school rooms I found a little jar with a small plant in it and I took it home and planted it and that was about 30/40 years ago.
‘It was in my back garden first but then it grew too big and I moved it outside the front of my house.
‘It grew so big I moved it into this space here about ten years ago.’
Mr Weatherby believes the recent heatwave Portsmouth has experienced is the catalyst for his agave's spectacular growth spurt.
‘Its a tropical plant, its obviously grown because of the hot weather,’ he added.
‘I keep watering it and looking after it and that’s it.
‘It grows like this until all the flowers have formed and then its supposed to die off.
‘They say in the book that it dies off and falls down, so we will have to watch it, make sure nobodies car is parked here.
‘It’s like a steel pole, very very hard, you can’t even move it.
‘There are lots of agave plants down by Canoe Lake but they are falling down.’