Warm to the idea of growing tropical fruit, says Janice Marriott.
If an area of your garden is frost-free year-round, think about planting tropical fruit. You never know what you can grow until you try. I've grown tamarillos and passionfruit in Wellington. I've seen bananas growing and ripening on the North Shore. A friend has a sugar cane plant growing well in her raised bed in Waimauku.
A banana tree needs full sun and shelter from wind and in a hot summer it needs a lot of water. It's a beautiful tree for a courtyard or entranceway and could thrive in the warmth radiating off a sunny wall. But it won't keep you in bananas all year; you'll get one bunch of bananas a stalk.
Nestlebrae Exotics near Helensville is the specialist nursery for warm climate fruits. It has a great range of citrus, banana, and macadamia trees. It also stocks pawpaws, papayas, passionfruit, persimmons, pineapples and my favourite, tamarillos.
Avocados enjoy warmer climates, too. Even a light frost can burn the flower buds on an older tree, and a heavy frost will be fatal. They need very rich soil and frequent applications of fertiliser. And if you grow too many avocados, use them to rejuvenate your skin. Just mash one with some honey and yoghurt, apply the paste to your face and lie back for 15 minutes or more.By Janice Marriott