Warm weather sends gardener bananas!

A warm and bone-dry summer has brought an unexpected arrival in one Suffolk garden - a bunch of bananas!

KESGRAVE: A warm and bone-dry summer has brought an unexpected arrival in one Suffolk garden - a bunch of bananas!

Five years after planting a group of the exotic trees in his garden, Kesgrave man Tony Bond has been rewarded with a fruit-full.

The 46-year-old, of Jeavons Way, said he had been bowled over by the “miracle” growing in his back garden.

Three weeks ago one of the seven-foot trees flowered for the first time and has now produced a small bunch of bananas, each one measuring about two inches long.

Mr Bond said: “It is a miracle, it is very exciting and a big surprise.

“They can be grown easily in green houses but it is uncommon for them to fruit outside in this country.

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“One has come to fruit and I am keeping my fingers crossed.

“It is a bit unusual in this country. You do see banana trees - usually they just come to leaf but it is quite uncommon for them to fruit.”

He believes the phenomenon is down to the recent warm weather mimicking the climate in Africa and South East Asia - combined with a little tender loving care.

As the trees are not native to this country, Mr Bond has taken a number of steps to ensure they feel as at home as possible.

He adapted the soil they were planted in, removing the heavy English soil and mixing in grit and small rocks to make the soil free draining, allowing water to pass through and not clogging up the trees roots.

And as winter approaches, to keep the plants in the warmth to which they are accustomed, Mr Bond carefully wraps each one in yards of hessian until the spring.

“Unless we have a very warm autumn it is unlikely they will grow big enough to eat,” he added.

“In their native lands, in September and October the weather is a lot warmer so as it starts getting colder here it would be remarkable if they grow big enough to eat before the first frost kills them.”

Has the warm, dry summer brought some unexpected arrivals in your garden? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

In countries where bananas are native, like Africa and South East Asia, they do not just use banana plants for their fruit.

The leaves can be used in the same way we would use foil to wrap food before cooking.

The larger leaves can be used as roofing, covering straw roofs in the way tiles are used in this country.

The plants can also be used to make soap.

The plant needs ten to 15 months of frost-free conditions to flower.

All but the hardiest varieties stop growing when the temperature drops below 53F or 12C and freezing temperatures will kill the leaves.

Banana fruit are technically classed as berries, having many seeds with a fleshy inner layer.

The banana plant is not a tree, lacking woody fibre and so is classed as the world's largest herb and a member of the lily family.