There are cold-blooded stalkers among us, watching everything we do, knowing when we’re not around, taunting us with their teeth and tails. “They” are iguanas, and as many of you know, they and they’re insatiable appetites are a constant battle for my garden and me.
Ever since Joe first noticed the flower stem emerging from the crown of our banana tree, I’ve been singing the song “Going Bananas.” Madonna sang it during her Dick Tracey years and it pops into my head whenever I walk by the tree and observe the changes in the inflorescence.
Actually, I don’t even know the words — just the chorus, and even that’s a bit shaky. So all I really ever sing is “I’m going bananas” and then I add a few la-la-las and a couple of boom-chick-a-booms.
Simply put, I’m going bananas because I’m growing bananas.
Within a few days, the flower stem is pulled downward by the weight of the inflorescence, so that it’s peeking below the dark green foliage and looking a lot like the Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.
Banana Fact: This flower stem is actually the plant’s true stem, growing from the rhizome below the ground and pushing its way upward through the false stem or pseudostem, a very fibrous, water-filled stem of tightly packed leaf sheaths.
As it grows, modified leaves or bracts curl back to reveal rows of young fruit.
Each of these are tipped with a pale yellow female flower. The male flowers are contained in the reddish-brown bud at the end of the flower stem.
Soon, more and more bananas are revealed. Each bunch is called a hand, and each single banana is called a finger.
Banana Fact: Each hand can have between 10 and 20 fingers.
I’m so enamored of the plant’s structure, I find myself wanting to photograph it each day.
Banana Fact: because they are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, bananas — like tomatoes, kiwi, and pomegranates — are berries.
The pale yellow flowers begin to fade.
Banana Fact: A banana plant is actually classified as a perennial herb.
And all that’s left for me to do is wait for the harvest. (Notice the smaller male flowers at the bottom of the photo below.)
I’m not exactly sure when that harvest will be. All I know is the flower stem will continue to elongate, creating more space between the hands. At some point after that, it will be time to not only remove the fruit, but also the plant itself to make room for the pup that’s already sprouting next to the mother plant.
Banana Fact: Until then, rest assured, I’ll be going bananas.
There’s something special about Sunday mornings. It’s a time that’s built for reading each section of the newspaper, undertaking the crossword puzzle, and lingering over a breakfast that’s a bit more intricate than an eat-and-run weekday meal. It’s a moment to pause and breathe.
For today’s Sunday breakfast, I’m serving up some flapjacks.
I’m always stunned when something sneaks up on me in the garden. Not a snake or a bear, but a plant. I mean, I walk around the garden daily — as I’m sure all of you do — and I like to think that I notice most of what’s happening among the plants.
And then this happens — a bloom that wasn’t there yesterday is here today.
It’s been some time since I posted a “Bloomin’ Update,” because — well — I had nothing bloomin’ in my garden because I didn’t have a garden in zone 10.
But as 2014 changed into 2015, so too did the garden change. Where there was once only lawn, there are now beds. Where there are beds, there are now plants and pots and paths. (Speaking of paths, I’ll describe the path I took to create this garden in a future post.)
With all of the changes happening around me, I decided to make some changes to this blog. For a while, I’ve considered purchasing my own domain — which I have now done. It’s official, I am now Nitty Gritty Dirt Man dot com.
As a general garden rule, I do not like — and so steer away from — plants that can hurt me. Roses are about as close as I get to this thorny issue, which has less to do with the plant and more to do with me. I know me. I know that I can be careless and klutzy — and that combination, along with some blood thinners, means I can easily become a human pin cushion.
A few years ago, Joe and I asked a neighbor if he would like our cactus. It was tall, only one stalk, and never really did anything. It was just there, slightly askew — a leaning tower of needles, so to speak.
The neighbor gladly accepted the offer, digging up the cactus and replanting it along the property line between him and us — far enough and close enough at the same time. Since then, that single stalk has expanded to about seven towering stems — and it’s now in bloom, giving a whole new definition to vertical gardening.
Look quickly, though, the flowers — which bees love — only last a day.
Much of my garden time in South Florida is not actually spending time in the garden at all. So far, it’s been about meeting other gardeners, visiting nurseries, reading books, taking notes, and asking questions. I’m a stranger in a strange land here, a zone six-ish gardener in a zone 10 world.
When I learned the local garden club had organized a Saturday field trip to a local nursery, I jumped at the chance to do all of the above — although, I do have to figure out a way to take notes while balancing a camera.