The banana tree, an unusual sight in London's climate, is testament to the hard work and dedication of a group of students who live at the University of London’s Connaught Hall. The fruiting of the plant has been a source of immense joy and surprise for students and staff alike, and it has become a popular talking point and a beloved part of the Connaught Convocation Peace Garden's identity.
The Peace Garden serves a dual purpose: acting as a sensory garden while representing the rich diversity of the University of London’s global student body. The flora includes plants from around the world, coexisting harmoniously and reflecting the global community's unity. It was created during the pandemic as something to remind students of their home, to foster a sense of community and as hope for a brighter future.
Connaught Hall Manager Hafsi Bakari said:
This Peace Garden project provided a safe, outdoor activity for our students during the pandemic restrictions, and its fruiting three years later serves as a positive beacon from a challenging time. The choice to plant the banana tree was indeed a leap of faith, but one that has now borne fruit. So now I am delighted to confirm that yes – we have one banana!
The Peace Garden’s dedicated team – warden Adrian Clark, former student advisor Tom Seagroatt and resident Andrew Dakoutros – created the Peace Garden during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the team horticulture advisor, Andrew led the planting process while Adrian, focused on attracting wildlife using feeders and bug hotels. Tom removed dead plants and replaced an incredible 10 tonnes of unsuitable soil. Now this symbol of student-led environmental stewardship has sprung a blooming surprise at the heart of Bloomsbury.