South Norwood has gone bananas – quite literally.

A green fingered couple were so shocked they “nearly fell over” when they realised they had managed to do the impossible and grow the apeeling tropical fruit in the UK’s temperate climate.

Riam and Kamla Ramkumar, who moved to England from Guyana more than four decades ago, have lived at their house in Whitworth Road for the past 25 years.

But it was only few weeks ago Mr Ramkumar, 59, was sitting in his garden when he noticed the banana tree he planted 10-years ago had flowered and was trying to fruit.

Without wasting another split second he ran inside to tell his wife.

He said: “I was really, really shocked, I nearly fell over.

“I screamed to my wife ‘come and have a look at this’.

“I asked the guy in the shop [when I bought it] ‘is this tree going to fruit’ and he said it is not a fruiting type. I wish I knew who he was now so I could show it to him.”

Bananas are usually grown in tropical regions where the average temperature is a balmy 27 degrees and are available throughout the year as they do not have a growing season like most fruit.

The banana flower appears in the sixth or seventh month of the tree's fruiting cycle before sprouting bananas ready for harvesting.

Mrs Ramkumar, 58, said she was just as shocked by the fruitful discovery, adding: “I didn’t think you could grow banana’s here.

“He is always out here with his plants – he loves it.”

Croydon Guardian:

Mr and Mrs Ramkumar in their 'tropical paradise' garden

A farmer by trade in South America, Mr Ramkumar kept his love of the land alive by growing his own fruit and vegetables, a passion he has passed on to his to grandchildren, Dylan, five, and Kayla, eight.

To keep the banana trees happy and healthy he wraps them in plastic during the winter to mimic the tropical climate they originate from – one might say the banana’s have pyjamas.

He added: “I like to encourage wildlife in the garden, I get lots of butterflies and bees and I have a bird feeder for the birds.

“And I like to encourage my grandchildren to help and teach them how we grow food in this country. They love the garden.

“In this country kids thing we buy everything because we made it.

“We took them to a farm and said ‘that’s the chicken and that is where the egg comes from’ it is so important to educate children about how we grow food.”

Food has always been a big part of Mr Ramkumar’s life.

When he first arrived from Guyana he worked for the Bank of England as a chef, where he was privileged to be one of the team of chefs who cooked for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981.

Now retired, he has turned his focus to his own garden where he also grows chillies, aubergines, melons, cucumbers, as well as a range of other vegetables.

While the banana tree hasn’t produced any harvestable fruit, Mr Ramkumar said he would be keeping his eyes peeled come next year.

He said: “I like a challenge, you know, I like to think that we can grow a few of these things in this country.

“I tried to grow sugarcane, but not luck but I will keep trying.

“We are self-sufficient here in our little garden. It is a very stress-free environment [my garden], I come out here and sit in my hammock and it is nice.

“And to see that [the bananas], that in itself is like a tropical paradise.

“Next year hopefully I might get more.”

The Royal Horticultural Society describe banana plants as "hardy" and say that given the right conditions, they can survive a UK winter, though it is advisable to wrap plants in particularly cold weather.

If you want to plant one, pick the late spring in a sheltered site with well-drained soil.