In 2004, a renovation to my house provided long awaited direct access to the backyard. I wanted a space for outdoor living/dining and a patio seemed like the natural choice based on the lay of the land. Before the patio was even completed I was already envisioning all the cool plants I could grow in the new surrounding garden beds. The main patio bed is about twelve feet deep and backed by a south facing wall of the garage. I suspected it would be a micro climate where I could get away with growing plants borderline for my hardiness zone. At the top of my list was Musa basjoo, the hardy banana.
In the spring of 2005 I ordered one from Fairweather Gardens, one of my favorite mail order nurseries. When it arrived in April it was dormant in a gallon container. I planted it immediately and before long little banana leaves started to sprout.
|Musa basjoo in September 2005|
Musa basjoo is right up my plant collecting alley. Besides being a huge conversation piece, no other
hardy semi-hardy plant provides such bold tropical foliage for northern gardens. And except for regular water no special care is required. By the end of the first summer I felt like I was in my own little tropical paradise. But...I had to get it through the winter because then, and only then would I be able to stake my claim in the land of zonal denial.
After a frost took out the foliage, I cut the whole plant back to about a foot, surrounded it with a wire cage filled with shredded leaves and crossed my fingers. The spring of 2006 was warmer than the elusive "normal" so often referred to by those who attempt to predict weather in New England. In April I noticed what I thought was the shredded leaves settling in the cage but quickly realized the plant was growing from the cuts I made the previous fall. Nothing above ground had died back. Incredible!
|By September 2007 it was starting to form a grove|
|September 2011-Musa basjoo at a size much more in scale with the rest of the garden but still a large and dramatic foliage focal point.|
If you think you might want to give Musa basjoo a shot, I recommend spring planting and winter protection for at least the first year. A protected site and good soil amended with compost will help ensure success. For a couple of years I've been toying with the idea of trying to grow it in another, less protected garden area just to see what happens I just haven't found the right spot.
Love, love, love that plant. wish I had good spot for one. I'll bet it would survive in my rose garden but then the roses would to go. Great series of pics Sue.ReplyDelete
Here's the perfect excuse to deep six those pest and disease magnets and plant something more low maintenance :).Delete
Sue, I'd say that is the perfect plant in the perfect spot. It looks great against the garage and who doesn't want a tropical patio. I had one once and protected it over the winter but it was a no show. I guess there is a limit to zone pushing.ReplyDelete
Are you zone 4? If so I'd say that is pushing it.Delete
A hardy bamboo here? I'd be one of those garden visitors peeking at the plant in the ground and asking how you brought it in for winter. Amazing. I am very tentative about big bold tropical foliage, but you show how it can be used really effectively, integrated with a lot of other foliage and placed against a backdrop. wow.ReplyDelete
Hardy banana, yes. It's bben completely hardy for me for years. Give it a try-you may become a bold foliage convert :).Delete
I meant hardy BANANA, not bamboo!! I am gong to turn off auto correction. . . .Delete
Great post! Wow, that photo from 2008 is something .... looks like it had visions of a competition with the eucalyptus! Love the plant combinations - just beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration, just planted mine behind the garage. We'll see what happens in the spring.ReplyDelete
I love your patio garden and I am working diligently on mine. Hopefully it won't all be dead when I get home from this trip !ReplyDelete
Just amazing Sue, and so handsome! Yes indeed, right plant in the right location. I guess you have lots of watering to do this summer though...like the rest of us. Looks like you live in Costa Rica!ReplyDelete
DH was looking at your Musa basjoo this morning and asked if it is a Tundra Banana...for cold climates. Whatever.ReplyDelete
Hahahaha...OMG...it really almost ate your garden! I think your new approach is the best solution :-)ReplyDelete
I love this! I'd love to get a list of the other plants you used to get the perfect tropical feel. I'm trying the same in Colorado, and we'll see if the dryness will hamper it. there will be daily misting to help. E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd prefer to email it.ReplyDelete
Hi Mark-Colorado, huh? I'm totally unfamiliar with your growing conditions but I'm thinking moisture may definitely be an issue for you when trying to grow Musa basjoo. Other great tropical plants are Colocasias and Alocasias, Acalphas, Cannas, Abutilons and Brugmansias. Most require regular water to thrive though. If you haven't done so already, ask around at some local nurseries and see what they suggest.Delete