Recently, I took a long overdue stroll through a local South Florida nursery. I wasn’t expecting to take photos — this was supposed to be a quick trip to pick up some vinca for some of the pots in the backyard.
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.
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.
Simply put, I’m a fern fan.
I love the way their fiddleheads appear in spring, the graceful uncurling, and the slow, almost teasing reveal of the finely cut fronds. Let’s face it: ferns are the dancers of the garden, ballet and burlesque all at once.
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.
I have to give credit where credit is due.
My parents were the first ones who introduced me to gardening. There were Mom’s rules about deadheading and weeding and Dad’s lessons on mowing and crop rotation — even if the farm was a tucked away corner of the yard.
Recently, I spent several days in my childhood home and lazed away summer afternoons in the backyard, where the slower pace was marked by the filling of bird feeders and the waiting and watching for feathered arrivals.