BY TOBY PORTER
Tooting might have been recently chosen as the 10th most interesting place in the world to visit in an online travel guide, but it is not known for its tropical climate.
It looks to have become a South London hot spot in more ways than one, because at least one resident has been baffled to see his banana tree grow to more than 20ft tall. John Sewell, of Lessingham Avenue, bought the plant 10 years ago as a two-foot tall sapling for £12 from a garden centre near Wandsworth Prison.
He has seen it grow steadily over the years, until it overshadows almost all of his garden and its leaves have spread out to hang over his boundary fences. He said: “It’s unbelievable. I have seen other banana trees, but none of this size.
“A lot of people do not believe me. I don’t know why it’s grown so big – especially in Tooting. And it is not right that it should be still in full bloom in November.
“It grows bananas – I can pick them by standing on a chair. But they are not very big.
“Every year it grows little offshoots which I give to relatives and friends.
“My brother sells up to about 30 a year at his market stall, when they are about two feet tall.
“They are quite easy to grow once I lop them off – they wilt initially, but if you keep watering them for a couple of days, they revive.
“I take the fruit off and bring them to the Conservative Club in Ashvale Road, Tooting. They grow to about two-and-a-half inches long. They don’t really get ripe enough to eat.”