Bananas spotted sprouting for second time in a month

Esther Holmes has two flowering banana plants growing in her garden, which is very unusual, and the second one she thinks is bigger than that at Nostell Priory.
Esther Holmes has two flowering banana plants growing in her garden, which is very unusual, and the second one she thinks is bigger than that at Nostell Priory.

They are most commonly grown in the warm conditions of the tropics, but bananas have been spotted sprouting in the district for the second time in a month.

Nostell Priory’s kitchen gardener Mark Westmoreland noticed two small rings of the fruit flowering for the first time ever on a plant at the historic site in mid-July.

Now Castleford couple Esther and Frank Holmes have discovered that two banana plants in their garden are also producing fruit.

And they have joked their bananas can rival Nostell’s offering.

Mrs Holmes, 71, said: “I think they’re bigger and better than the ones at Nostell Priory.

“It’s definitely most unusual to grow bananas up here. My cousins down south have been saying ‘how can you grow bananas in the frozen North’?

Gardener Mark Westmoreland pictured with the Bananas grown at Nostell Priory, Wakefield.

Gardener Mark Westmoreland pictured with the Bananas grown at Nostell Priory, Wakefield.

“It’s quite exciting really.”

When Mr Holmes went to uncover the plants after the winter in May, he noticed one was flowering for the first time. And it now has a bunch of bananas about an inch and a half long.

Last week, Mr Holmes, 69, also discovered a second plant with “even bigger” fruit.

Mrs Holmes said: “We just planted them in the ground four years ago and left them to it.

“I’m quite surprised they have flowered.

“My husband is always going out to do the garden but apart from giving them some extra water when it has been hot, we haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. They have just flourished on their own.”

She added: “I don’t think they are edible. I’m not about to try one.”

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, bananas need a “long and sunny” growing period of up to 15 months, with temperatures above 15C.

The couple, from Townville, said this year’s hot and sunny weather could explain the sudden growth.

Mrs Holmes said: “I think they must have flowered because the weather has been hotter.

“That’s the only thing I can think of. They do like a lot of water but normally they would be grown in the warmth.”

Mr Westmoreland agreed.

“To guarantee bananas flowering in this country, you’d normally keep the plants in horticultural domes, filled with warm air to simulate a tropical climate,” he said.

“It really is a wonder that they’ve flowered without such bespoke conditions.”

Mr and Mrs Holmes got their banana plants four years ago from Melvin and Linda Moran, who open up their much-loved tropical garden in Lancaster Street to the public every year.

As well as kiwi plants, grape vines and orange trees, their ‘Little Eden’ garden has a range of exotic trees and flowers from places as far away as Australia, Africa and the Canary Islands.

They have had banana plants for around ten years and have seen them flower and produce fruit once, four years ago.

Mrs Moran said: “Once a banana plant flowers and fruits then that plant dies and the next plants you get are new baby ones.

“It takes a few years for the next lot to grow enough to flower and ours aren’t quite ready for that this year.”

The couple will open up their garden at 29 Lancaster Street on Sunday from 10am until 4.30pm as part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

Entry costs £3 and the money will to various NGS-supported charities including the MS Society, Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Carers Trust.