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Vancouver’s Stanley Park finds fruitful bounty with bananas

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Five years ago her banana bore fruit, but she said it was a hot July. This year, every time she watered her banana plant from June, she faithfully added a non-toxic, natural plant food.

Hilson, a former flight attendant, said gardening had become her passion.

“We moved from Granville Island to Beach Avenue. I was retired and thought, “What am I doing with myself?”

“There was a woman in the garden. I said to her, “Oh, what a beautiful garden.” She said “do you want it?” ”

Hilson took the bait and became the club’s volunteer gardener. It started first in the central area and then moved on the western and northern borders.

The banana plant at the north end is the largest of the three along the west side.

“It gets sun all day,” she said.

“It’s the perfect place. We’re facing south and it’s protected. “

VANCOUVER, BC - August 25, 2020 - Monika Hilson cultivating bananas at Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club in Vancouver, BC, August 25, 2020. (Photo by Arlen Redekop / Vancouver Sun / The Province -PNG) (Story by Kevin Griffin) [PNG Merlin Archive]The Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club’s banana plant is Musa Basjoo, a hardy variety known as the Japanese fiber banana. Photo by Arlen Redekop /.PNG

The banana plant that grows from the lawn bowling club is Musa Basjoo, a hardy variety known as the Japanese fiber banana, said Bruce McDonald, superintendent of the Sunset Nursery and the Bloedel Conservatory.

He said it grows with palm trees in warmer seaside areas in downtown and the West End. The hardy banana can withstand temperatures down to minus 10 ° C.

“They look like a real banana, but they’re not an edible banana,” he said, adding that the fruit is fibrous and not very sweet.

He said the only way to get it to fruit is to not hack the plant back into the ground every winter, like Hilson did.

Japanese fiber bananas are considered tough enough to survive zone 5. Vancouver was a Zone 7 but has warmed to Zone 8; tropical bananas that bear edible fruit are zone 10.

The Bloedel Conservatory has banana plants, including edible dwarf bananas, that produce fruit.

“We don’t eat them, we feed them to the birds,” said McDonald.

“It is also not regular that this happens.”

kevingriffin@postmedia.com

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