Conservatory owner grows impossible fruit

A former naval officer, who built himself an environmentally-friendly six-bedroom home in Gloucestershire, has achieved what the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) had written off as impossible.

Mike Hilliard, who now owns his own property development company, uses his huge conservatory to harness the suns energy to heat his home.

The glazed structure stays between ten and 16 degrees warmer than the outside temperature all year round.

In it he keeps a number of tropical plants to help oxygenate his home. But one particular species that he keeps has caused a stir in the horticultural world of late.

The Asian musa japonica is used to extremely hot temperatures and, despite numerous attempts, the RHS has never been able to get the plant to produce fruit in the UK.

But Mr Hilliards three five-metre tall plants have given him over 70 bananas this year, which he intends to cook in a curry.

"This has all been done by the English sunshine in my solar room [bespoke conservatory], which provides my house with an oxygen-rich atmosphere," he explained.

Aside from his heat-providing conservatory, the 64-year-old harvests rainwater for his shower, plants and even dishes – techniques which mean he pays just £150 per year for gas and electricity.