I’ve become a little bit obsessed with the Gloriosa Lily ever since I spotted it casually rambling over my friend Neil’s shrubs. The vining plant was so intertwined with the neighboring plants that it looked as if its exotic flowers were part of the shrubs. On top of that, the flowers last a very long time when cut and placed in a vase. Even the cut buds eventually open!
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a display of vibrant colors, a site for eyes sore from the dreary grays of winter. Even South Florida, often accused of not actually having a change of seasons, wants to get in on the spring act.
If the transition from winter to spring in South Florida is subtle, the one between summer and fall is practically invisible. While autumn is already a few weeks old — according to the calendar and posts from northern gardeners — the weather forecasters in Zone 10 say that anything resembling fall (temperatures below 70) will not arrive until sometime in November — and that will most likely happen while I’m fast asleep.
It’s difficult to believe that it’s the first day of winter, WordPress has added snow, the holidays are upon us, and 2017 is coming to an end. For many, this time of year is an opportunity to look back and reflect.
My day of reflection, though, happened on December 12, the 20th anniversary of my car accident.
My garden doesn’t need me.
Oh, it uses me — for watering and weeding and such — but it really doesn’t need me.
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.