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With special care, you can grow banana shrubs

Stored under Caption This!GamesMiscellaneousNewsRecipesRelated EBay AuctionsReviewsVideosVisual Stimulation on October 5, 2006

Q: I was surprised to see the banana shrub on your list of "10 More Indispensables" [Pacific Northwest Magazine, Sept. 10]. The "Sunset Western Garden Book" lists it for zones 6 (borderline), 9, 14-24. Wouldn't it be too tender for our climate? Has global warming raised our zone number?

A: The banana shrub (Michelia figo) is an evergreen magnolia look-alike with large leaves and highly fragrant, creamy yellow flowers. This was a pick of tree-expert Arthur Lee Jacobson, who has had a banana shrub growing happily in his Montlake garden since 1986, which would argue for its hardiness here.

Perhaps this wouldn't be a good choice if you live in the Cascade foothills or another of the Puget Sound basin's colder areas. If you have a warm, sheltered spot in your garden, or live in the city or near water, your garden is probably warm enough to grow a banana shrub.

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