When it comes to gardening I am the fantastical dreamer and Prue the magical realist. She promises (and delivers) on turning our 700 square metre block in Townsville into a market garden while I try and convince her we should go for an exotic, impractical tropical orchard. When it comes to our yard I am almost completely disenfranchised and although she has occasionally promised me my own little bed in a dark corner for me to do with what I will, I know it would just end badly for me.
Everything I suggest will either get too big (a macadamia tree), doesn’t grow here (edible figs) or is just downright stupid (like the peach trees that were for sale at Bunnings I pleaded with her to let me buy).
I have had only one recent success, convincing her to let me purchase two custard apples. But there was a brief window of time when things were different. I moved to Townsville last year, a few months before she did, and I made merry, fulfilling one little green fantasy I have always harboured – to have my very own banana plantation producing so many bananas (the sweet little varieties) that I never again have to buy another big, tasteless Cavendish the size of a buffalo horn.
I bought a collection of four different varieties of knee-high banana palms that promisingly went on to survive Cyclone Yasi and now stand at least ten feet tall. Even Prue admits grudgingly they are one of my unmitigated gardening victories. They have now produced their first huge bunch and I am weeks away from being one of the few Australians facing a banana glut (at least for the day or two after that bunch is picked). But pride cometh before a fall. If they don’t quickly turn from green to yellow then the sea of banana plantations to the north and south of Townsville will be back on line and a compost bin full of banana peel will no longer be a wealth status symbol. And I will be back in my place, forever the guy who didn’t quite pull off one of the great gardening feats of all time – keeping his family swimming in bananas while all of his neighbours and friends went without.
No matter what, though, even when bananas go back to $4 per kilogram, I will never, ever forget that moment when I pull out a machete (okay, big secateurs) and sit down on the ground like the silverback I am becoming and eat the very first banana I ever grew myself.