83-year-old from Felpham grows bananas in his back garden

A West Sussex grandfather says banana trees take nothing more than hard work, love and dedication to help grow.
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John White has always loved a challenge.

Now aged 83, the retired deep sea diver seeks his thrills not at the bottom of the Persian Gulf, but in his home garden, where he grows banana trees that defy the Great British weather.

"It’s just different,” he explains. “I wanted to grow something out of the ordinary. I love growing apple trees, too, but banana trees are a different kind of challenge.”

John's banana trees grow even in blustery West Sussex. Photo: Connor GormleyJohn's banana trees grow even in blustery West Sussex. Photo: Connor Gormley
John's banana trees grow even in blustery West Sussex. Photo: Connor Gormley
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The trees are arguably the most impressive plant in John’s garden, who took to landscaping after leaving his career as a deep sea diver behind, but they’re certainly not the only one.

His banana trees share space with palm trees,apple trees, tomato vines,and a range of tropical wonders.

Bananas grow in over 150 countries all over the world, but tend to thrive in sunnier climes, like Latin America and the Caribbean.

That means it’s often difficult to grow them in wet and windy West Sussex but, John says, it’s certainly not impossible.

Felpham man John White with one of his banana treesFelpham man John White with one of his banana trees
Felpham man John White with one of his banana trees
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It just takes a certain amount of devotion, and a lot of love.

"I have to nurse a banana tree for three to five years before it’ll bear fruit.

"I cover them up in the winter and in the spring, I open them up again,” he said.

“They want to grow. They want to grow even though it’s cold.”

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Nor does the blustery weather have any impact on the taste.

John says you’d never tell the difference between his bananas and those you’d buy from the super market.

“It’s no different to any other fruit,” he explains.

“They taste the same. You can grow anything tropical if you look after it.

"You might think they can only grow here because of global warming, because it’s getting hotter, but it has nothing to do with that.

"It’s just dedication and patience.

"If you have the interest and the patience and the time – when you get older you have to think about these things – you can do it.”