… and I’m OK. Very OK. Gleeful, in fact.
Today, I went round to the Dowager’s (aka the first Gardens of Chiconia, where I discovered what tropical gardening is all about) to give her a hand. The little Ducasse banana tree I planted 18 months ago has flowered, fruited and multiplied, to the tune of 6 thick trunks instead of one. We needed to deal with an excess of trunkage and leafage, and remove the one which had already fruited to make space for a new one to come forward. It’s hot, heavy, soggy and occasionally stinky work – rotting banana stem is pretty whiffy. Trunks as thick as a man’s leg are actually mostly water, held together with fibrous tissue – think of an incredibly stringy monster cucumber and you get an idea of how much water bananas take up. On the upside, they’re really, really easy to cut down.
Once we’d dealt with the three trunks, we left them on the ground to drain and return the water to the soil. Everything will dry out and get lighter and easier to handle. Some can be mulched, the rest will have to go to the green waste area at the dump. A pity to lose all that biomass, but in that tiny garden, there’s no alternative.
An hour later, hot and smeared with mushy banana pulp, we’d got the job done. I went round snipping, clipping, slicing and digging, helping myself to cuttings, slips, corms and leaves. The whole garden has grown so much that my depredations didn’t show at all. I have three softwood cuttings from the angel trumpet, a root from the variegated ginger and another from the heliconia, a rooted stem from the calathea zebrina, and lots of leaves and rooted babies from the succulent collection. But the prize was a perfect sucker from the banana – about 40cm high, with the narrow spear-shaped leaves you need instead of big flappy rounded ones. This kind of sucker grows faster and produces fruit more quickly than the other, and there was just one, so I snaffled it! It was right at the back, next to the fence, so very hard to slice off the parent trunk, and there isn’t a lot of root, but my fingers are crossed.
To top that all off, I was given two hands of bananas from the tree, one very ripe, one still slightly green. The thin-skinned, chubby little Ducasse sugar bananas are just fabulous, sweet, aromatic and fresh, with zingy high notes that remind me of strawberry. The Dowager has the whole stem hanging on a hook in the patio, with a cover that pulls down overnight to keep off the possums and flying foxes. No shop bought banana will ever taste so good or be so fresh. If the cutting takes, give me another 18 months, and I hope to be picking my own bananas!
So, major score all round. Excuse me, I’m off to pig out on the tastiest bananas I’ve ever eaten…