Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Banana Murderer and new beginnings

For a couple of years now we had been lamenting the fact that our majestic big trees in the backyard had to go due to the fact that they had become unstable and dangerous. Tree loppers were asked for quotes, and more than a year passed without any action on our part.  Finally it was agreed that we would go ahead but we were hit with devastating floods and heavy rain for months on end. Then it turned into a waiting game for the ground to dry enough for the tree lopper's trucks to drive on.

Tipuanas in May 2011
In the meantime precious plants were moved, garden gates and termite traps dug up, brick edgings removed, juvenile banana trees dug up and transplanted and still the rains would return every time we thought the ground was firm enough to call the tree loppers.

Finally the ground was dry enough towards the middle of July and we gave the tree loppers the go ahead to remove the trees.

My partner gave clear instructions to the tree loppers of leaving our precious banana tree standing (we finally have fruit after 5 years!) and asked them to avoid damaging the tree. We could not believe our eyes when a minute later, yes, 60 seconds later, one of the guys (aka the "Banana Murderer") was half hanging, half wrestling with the same tree until it lay flat on the ground. Too late to save the tree, we hurried outside and quickly removed the precious, unripe bunch of bananas and hung them under the house in the hope the fruit might still ripen (which it did not), before the truck moved in and work began in earnest.

It always amazes me that people are able to cut down a tree in a couple of hours when it took decades for it to reach maturity. The crew took a day and a half to chop eleven trees down.

We went from this last year:

To this:

We saved some pieces from the trees' long thick logs for my partner's future woodworking projects and five slabs for me to paint on.

The Tipuana trees (Tipuana tipu) bled red sap. A beautiful deep red, like blood. The next day we collected as much as we could of this sap, some was still liquid and some had dried to a crumbly texture. Hopefully we will get to use it as a paint of some sorts.

The native bee nest in the stump of one of the Tipuanas was saved and the bees stayed on. We have capped the stump with an old metal sheet and the bees now have an overhang to shelter them from the weather.

We are now faced with a "brown desert".  It is depressing to look at but at the same time full of new possibilities. In the meantime there are weeds to contend with, it seems our backyard is host to the worst obnoxious weeds. There's Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia), Onion weed (Nothoscordum inodorum), Nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus), Cobbler's Pegs (Bidens pilosa ), Chinese Elm seedlings (Ulmus parvifolia), Oxalis, the list goes on, you name it - chances are we've got it.

I will end on a positive note: The Banana Murderer did not succeed in totally getting rid of our banana tree.
Imagine my joy when I noticed five little side shoots coming off the cut trunk of the old tree. Now we will let them grow a bit taller before we'll carefully separate them into five new banana trees and a couple of years down the track we might finally enjoy our banana crop.

young banana shoots

Until next time... I wish you every success dealing with your weeds!


  1. What a lovely glimpse into your garden Mon, and how exciting to have a blank canvas to start work on :).

    Did you know bananas are actually a herb? and they will fruit once they have made enough leaves.


  2. I'm so sorry about your tree Monika! But there is a happy ending after all, you have five little ones! You'll have to wait, yes, but at least it's not all lost. I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for sharing the story! :)

  3. Monika I know how you feel after having sixteen 6oft eucalyptus felled earlier in the year.But we have planted lots of new trees and the old stumps are shooting new growth which is what we wanted.