Callaway Gardens (Part II): Going Bananas at the Horticulture Center
|Mottlecah 'Eucalyptus macrocarpa'|
The Rockwall Conservatory features a dramatic collection of yuccas, agaves and aloes.
The retaining wall was constructed with materials recycled from a former garden, including Georgia fieldstone and chunks of broken concrete salvaged from the old walkways. New black slate was added for contrast in texture and color.
Banana plants grow at my in-law's farm in Mississippi. Here is a photo taken 4 years ago of my two little monkeys playing in the banana plants. And yes, they really were pretending to be monkeys.
At our walk through of the Horticultural Center we were able to see the banana at its various stages of growth which is something we don't get to see at the farm.
According to the horticulturalist, bananas possess a unique scientific phenomenon called "negative geotropism." As the little bananas start to develop, they grow downward...as gravity would dictate. Slowly, several "hands" develop vertically and form a partial spiral around the stem. As they take in more and more sunlight, their natural growth hormones bring about a most puzzling phenomenon, and they begin to turn and grow upward. The entire stalk, known as a bunch, takes up to a year for the fruit to ripen enough to be harvested.
The stems are made of layers and layers of leaves that are wrapped around each other. Though quite large and thick, the stems are not strong and woody like most fruit trees and can break under the weight of many bunches of bananas. Here you can see the leaves unfurling, exposing the bananas.
The bananas begin to ripen as soon as they are picked. It is important that they are harvested in the green state at just the right time. If harvested too early, they develop a floury pulp instead of a delightfully sweet flavor.
Bananas are a member of the Musaceae family which includes palms, grasses and orchids. Just another reason to love bananas.