Agave americana variegated at Allan Gardens, Toronto, Canada

Did not reply to many comments left on my blog.
Did not write a July 8, 2013 Harvest Monday post.
Did not visit nor left comments on blogs I follow.
So what did I do?
I spent a whole week in Toronto, Canada.
No gardening.
No blogging.

I had my computer with me, had access to internet services and had planned to do some blogging, but one of my kids was hogging the bandwidth preventing me from logging on and when I did manage to log on, my computer was so frustratingly slooooow, decided to shut it down.

Would you believe I arrived home to phone and internet issues!!!!! Problems were solved very late Tuesday afternoon. All appears to be in good working order now and am going to try to catch up. Should make “catch up” my middle name.

Eva and MeHad the opportunity to spend time with the lovely and delightful Toronto blogger, Eva of Kitchen Inspirations. I have been following Eva’s blog for some time now. She is a foodie with sophisticated palate, loves to cook and entertain. Check out her recipes at Kitchen Inspirations, you would enjoying duplicating them in your own kitchen.

We arranged to meet downtown for dinner on Wednesday at La Societe. This was our first face to face meeting but I recognized Eva right away. We talked and talked, it was like we were old friends, time flew by, it was late and poor Eva had to go to work the next day. Hope she did not fall asleep on the job. Eva promised to visit the Hudson Valley with her husband and I am sooooo looking forward to their visit.

La Societe is a short distance from the Royal Ontario Museum, since I was early, decided to stop in. Found out that ROM’s special exhibit for 2014 is The Forbidden City. Definitely visiting then. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to meet Barb of Profiteroles & Ponytails. Barb, another Toronto blogger, was going to join us but last minute work load prevented her from getting away.

Read about the 75 years old Agave plant growing through the glass roof of the cacti green house at Allan Gardens, Toronto. Had to go and check it out.

This agave americana variegated, also known as the century plant, sat in the cacti green house in the conservatory at Allan Gardens for 50 years (its estimated age is 75) not doing much until March of this year when gardeners at the conservatory noticed a shoot appearing at the plant’s center, in no time it shot up to the glass ceiling. Faced with a dilemma (March is still quite cold in Toronto, but the flower spike (shoot) was bending and the plant would die if not allowed to grow straight). The conservatory took a chance and cut a hole in the glass ceiling large enough for the flower spike to grow through, and grew it did, see photos below.

(All the photos below were taken by my daughter, Kathy, who is a better photographer than I. Thank you Kathy. You may need to click on photos to enlarge.)

Agave americana variegated

Agave americana variegated

Agave Americana variegated
This agave plant sat in the cacti green house for 50 years and did nothing until March of this year when a shoot appeared in the center of the plant.

Agave americana variegated

Agave americana variegated

The agave flower spike looks like a giant asparagus
Was hoping it would have some flowers when we visited, but there was none yet.

Hundreds and hundreds of yellow flowers should be appearing (from the bottom of the flower spike up) pretty soon. After flowering, the plant will die. Wondering if baby agave will grow at the base of the mother plant.

This is one mother (though a late bloomer) who broke through the glass ceiling.

Agave americana variegated
The hole in the glass ceiling

Agave americana variegated

Agave americana variegated

2 views from the outside

Went shopping at Bulk Barn with my sister and found black quinoa and black beluga lentils. I have seen red quinoa and white quinoa but this is the first time I came across black quinoa, had to buy some. Black beluga lentils is not available where I live, so again I had to buy some. Wished I had purchased more of each.

Will write about the other plants in the Conservatory when I have the photos organized.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission


About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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36 Responses to Agave americana variegated at Allan Gardens, Toronto, Canada

  1. Saskia (1=2) says:

    What an amazing trip Norma! Sometimes a bit of enforced downtime from the computer is a blessing in disguise. How lovely to meet a fellow blogger. Sounds like you had a great night. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple too – it’s like meeting long-time pen friends!
    That cactus is fantastic and hilarious, bursting through the roof. How wonderful the conservatory gardeners gave it the space to do its magnificent thing, damage and all.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Saskia,
      It is amazing how one can know a person through his/her writing. Yes, Eva and I had a great night, so much so we both forgot to take photos of the foods.
      I really was hoping the cactus would at least display a few flower petals.

  2. I’m quite envious of your meal with Eva. I think you’re both fabulous. I’ve bought black quinoa before but black beluga lentils – definitely not.

    That agave plant is something else!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Maureen,
      When are you coming to visit your sister? If and when you do, we could, I am sure, arrange a get together.
      If I get hold of a photo of the agave plant in bloom I will write a post.

  3. It must have been wonderful to meet Eva I am jealous – she is such a great blogger 😀
    Love the agave plant, so new to me!


    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Uru,
      Yes, Eva is a great blogger and a lovely person, so glad we got to meet.
      Will post photos of the blooming agave if and when I get hold of them.

  4. I read Eva’s post about the meet-up with you the other day. Beautiful agave plants.

  5. How nice you had such a lovely break – sorry though you had internet problems when you returned home though.
    I love the agave plant – love that it was allowed to grow “outside” the green house. Just brilliant.
    Have a beautiful weekend Norma.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Mandy,
      It was quite a sight, both inside and outside, seeing the agave spike growing through the glass ceiling. Was so hoping to see a few flower petals. A beautiful weekend to you too.

  6. Eva Taylor says:

    Hi Norma, it was great to meet you too and I really enjoyed our time together. I am already looking forward to our next visit.
    You told me about that plant, but it didn’t hit me until I saw the photos — INCREDIBLE! What’s even more incredible is that we actually have a pretty chilly winter, and it seems that the part that sticks above the roof is quite permanent. Shamefully, I have yet to visit Alan Gardens but I will put it on my list this year.
    Everyone is aloud a little time away, it’s a healthy break, good for you!

    • Pat says:

      So glad you are back Norma! I missed you and your regular blog posting. I am happy for you that you had a great trip and got to visit with family and friends. Despite the heat you looked rested and well last night! See you soon.

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Pat,
        I am glad to be back, there is no place like home. I am hoping to resume my Friday’s posting, may not be every Friday, but I am going to try.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      I am looking forward to welcoming you and JT to the beautiful Hudson Valley, hope I do not have to wait too long.
      Sure wish I could be in Toronto when the agave plant is blooming, which could be any day now, should be quite a sight. Do you plan to visit and take photos? Still cannot get over the fact that Allan Gardens is open free to the public. The collection in the Conservatory is truly amazing. Will surely visit again but taking public transport instead of the car.

      • Eva Taylor says:

        Hi Norma, I would love to see that too but sadly I doubt I’ll have time over the next week or two. I’ll see if they have a blog or Facebook page where they might post relevant current info. Good point about public transit, downtown is brutal!

  7. Norma, look at that flower spike! That’s amazing! Sounds like you had a lovely trip! x

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Celia,
      I had a wonderful trip visiting with families and friends and sight seeing. The drive was a bit too long, 9 hours with only short necessary stops, not to mention the fact I am not used to sitting for such a long period of time.

  8. I love that agave — way to break through the glass ceiling! Plus, I am a sucker for variegated anything.

  9. Hotly Spiced says:

    Sometimes it’s good to take a wee break from blogging so we can focus more on absorbing new experiences. What a treat to have been able to meet Eva. She is such a treasure. That plant is very symbolic of something having ‘cracked the glass ceiling’ xx

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charlie,
      Yes, it was a very special treat to meet and spend time with Eva. Truly did not realize how long we sat in the restaurant talking nor how late it was.
      Glad you picked up on the symbolism of “breaking through the glass ceiling”.

  10. ChgoJohn says:

    Welcome home, Norma! I missed you and am relieved to learn you were on holiday. That agave is remarkable and that flower spike must have been something to see in person. Imagine what it will be like once the flowers being to open. Wow! I’ve only recently heard of Beluga lentils but have yet to find any. I’ve still a few places to look before I seek them out on the web. This was a wonderful post. I’m glad you met Eva and had such a nice holiday, Norma.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      Thanks. Sorry to have caused you to worry. Sure wish I could be at the garden to see the agave in full bloom, that should be quite a sight, and I imagine it will cause much excitement in Toronto, will post an update if I come across updated info.
      Eva and I just got along so well, I understand she will be visiting with you too. Was hoping to meet Barb also, next time.

  11. Sometimes internet issues can some of the best problems. It forces you to go out and have fun. I love Eva and so glad you could meet up with her. You both look beautiful by the way in your photo. I am still laughing at that gigantic agave plant. Holy cow that is amazing! I bet you could grow one to be that large you just have to talk to your plants… LOL. Glad you home safe. Take Care, BAM

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Bam,
      Besides talking to the plants, they also appreciate classical music. The agave plant was stunning, not to mention the fact that she was able to break through the glass ceiling, more power to her.

  12. Two very lovely ladies and it looks like you had a fabulous time and fun trip! What a plant that agave is…amazing. I actually have some black beluga lentils in my pantry that I haven’t cooked yet and need to get to it. Will look forward to seeing what you do with them. So glad you had a nice trip and hope all is straightened out with your internet.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Betsy,
      Thanks, we had a fabulous time and tons of fun. With all the catching up and the heat wave, am afraid will be a while before I get around to doing anything with the black beluga lentils.

  13. Great gardens photos!

  14. How fortunate and what fun to get to have lunch with Eva! And hopefully Barb next time, I love both of these gals’ blogs! That is one incredible agave plant.. I almost wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it going right through the glass in those photos!! Isn’t that unbelievable?! Glad you had a wonderful trip, Norma! xx

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Barbara,
      It was a lot of fun dining with Eva, we had a grand time together. Yes, the agave plant is incredible, will be checking the gardens’ site for flowering updates.

  15. Paul Jung says:

    HI Norma,

    thanks for posting a comment on my blog today. I’m glad you had a great time at the Allan Gardens Conservatory recently. It’s one of our (I’m a Torontonian) gems that we don’t like to advertise too much about!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Paul,
      You are welcome. Hard to believe your gem is open free to the public. I will be doing another post about the conservatory other plants as soon as I get my photos organized.
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

  16. Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook had an Agave that grew through the ceiling and flowered- maybe in the 1980s or 1990s. I will look for my photographs and share them with you if I find them.

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