Peterborough couple go bananas for spectacular, tropical home garden
The weather may have been far from tropical in Peterborough so far this summer, but one couple are bringing a taste of the Caribbean to the city - thanks to their spectacular garden.
Rachael and Brian Tee have been cultivating a range of tropical plants in their Orton Malborne garden - and this year have even managed to grow their own bananas.
Rachael (58) said she had been shocked when the fruit appeared on the tree.
She said: “We have had the plant for a number of years and it has been growing exclusively outside for three years now - but it has never had any fruit before.
“When I saw it for the first time I was amazed. I could not believe it after so long.”
Sadly, the couple won’t be able to taste their bananas.
Rachael said: “Sadly it is too cold for them to ripen properly, so they will never be edible. We will just leave them on the tree.
“We never have any problems with slugs or snails on the tropical plants, so they should be OK.”
Despite the success this year, Rachael said there was no secret to it.
She said: “We used to keep it in the greenhouse over the winter, but three years ago it started to become a bit too big to move.
“We wrap it up during winter with a carpet of bubble wrap, but that’s it - there is no special soil or anything.
“I think we got it in Norfolk, but I can’t remember where.
“We love tropical plants - we have lots of palm trees, and a pineapple plant.
“We have a Bird of Paradise plant too, and this year is the second time that has flowered. It is supposed to be difficult.
“I think the warmer weather last summer, and the fact it was not a cold winter, has helped the plants this year.
“We do spend a lot of time in the evenings and at weekends taking care of the garden.
“We have opened up our garden to the National Garden Society in the past, and people often say how nice it looks, but it does take a lot of work to get it looking like it does.
“We have all the books we can and do as much reading to make sure we are looking after the plants properly.
“There are not many people who look after tropical plants like we do in Peterborough.”
Emma Allen, garden manager at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley, said it was a challenge to grow bananas in the UK. She said: “The banana we grow outside here is Musa basjoo.
“In warmer parts of the UK they can be grown outside in a sheltered position in humus-rich well-drained soil in full sun.
“They do not tolerate temperatures below freezing, so at Wisley we need winter protection. We wrap them in straw and black horticultural fleece or you can use hessian instead.
“We usually wrap in October and unwrap again in April.”