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This is the first year I have ever grown a banana tree in my garden! I purchased this Red Abyssinian Banana online in early spring as a small potted plant. When I received it, I repotted it into a much larger pot and placed it near the small fountain/pond at the patio. It quickly outgrew the spot (and blocked the view) and we moved it into the front bed near the obelisk. It continued to grow amazingly fast and became the focal point of the entire front yard.

It’s over 8′ tall 9′ tall now and really needed to be in a much larger container. I got worried that it was getting so top-heavy that it might fall over, so we staked it with rebar and a string around the pot.

All summer, it has repeatedly unfurled enormous glossy burgundy and green leaves— the largest are four feet long and a foot wide. Not only has it been able to withstand full sun and our extremely high humidity, it has thrived, with lots of watering and feeding. I’m going to try and overwinter it (in a dormant state), and next year, I’ll plant it in the ground.

Red Banana
Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’

Ensete ventricosum Maurelii
Red Banana in front bed

red banana
Huge burgundy leaves in front of purple obelisk

Botanical Name: Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’
Hardiness Zones: 9a-11b, 5-9 if grown as an annual
Size: Will reach 18-20 feet tall in warm climates
Light: Full sun
Soil: Rich, fertile, well-draining
Care: Keep well watered and fertilized, cut off faded or tattered lower leaves
Fruit: Does not have edible fruit

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Fontana Dam spillingFontana Dam spilling water after a week of rain – TVA

The Fourth of July week was an almost total washout here. It started raining on Tuesday night, July 2nd and rained, and rained, and rained… all the way through early Monday morning, July 8th. Even the fireworks on the 4th were rescheduled to Saturday night. (It did stop for a few hours on Friday evening and again on Saturday evening, long enough to have a cookout, and a campfire and fireworks on Saturday.) In five days, we had more than NINE inches of rain! This rainfall led to a record water release at Fontana Dam, with Fontana Lake spilling 200,000 gallons per second over the weekend (an awesome sight), and the dam is still spilling 130,000 gallons per second to make flood storage for the continued rain in the forecast.

The garden stood up to the torrential rain better than I expected. It helped that I already had plant supports in the tallest flowers. I have jungle-growth throughout the garden though, here are some current photos (my lens was foggy for some of these). Click on any photo to view larger.

creek bed plantsEdge of creek beds

bee balm, butterfly bush, hydrangeaBee Balm, butterfly bush, hydrangea and scarlet runners on arch

heuchera, hardy begonia, zinnias, forget-me-notsBlue forget-me-nots, hardy begonia, ‘Caramel’ heuchera, zinnias, lamium

center flower bed near patioCenter flower bed with mixed planting

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My garden has had it’s share of bad bugs this year, spider mites (the worst infestation I have ever had), aphids, japanese beetles, slugs… the list goes on. But, right now, my garden is also filled with good bugs, including gulf fritillaries, bees of all kinds, soldier beetles, lady bugs.. here are a few photos. Click to enlarge.

gulf fritillary
Gulf Fritillary

soldier beetles on dahlias
Soldier Beetles

soldier beetle
Soldier Beetle on perennial Ageratum

lady bug
Lady bug on marigold

bumble bee
Bumble Bee resting on a coleus

bumble bees
Bumblebees on Dahlia

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Hyacinth Bean ‘Ruby Moon’ (Lablab purpureus) – This is the vine I used to cover one of my arches this year, and I’ll definitely grow it again. Right now, it’s covered in purple flowers and dark purple pods. I even like the foliage of this vine (and, it’s drought tolerant!).

Hyacinth Bean flowers
Flowers

Hyacinth Bean pods
Purple Pods

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