The “Banana Tree House” brings the tropics to the Cleveland suburbs

You might not think of tropical fruit when you think of Northeast Ohio, but one suburban home has had massive success with their front yard banana tree paradise.

When you think of a tall, tropical banana tree, you aren’t thinking of the usually snow-covered lawns of suburban Northeast Ohio. But on one unassuming street in Fairview Park, you’ll find a lush square footage of exotic foliage, just feet from traffic on West 210th Road.

J. Kevin Meivogel and Donna Reuter live in the regionally-famous “Banana Tree House”,  along with their dog, Zeus. Meivogel first received a young banana tree sprout from his daughter, years ago. What started as one tree quickly became a small forest, as he started growing more trees from the cuttings of the first. He now has well over fifty tropical plants on property, ranging in size and variety.

The trees need to be dug up and stored each Winter, a task that only takes Meivogel a day to complete. The issue of where to keep them, however, can become a challenge. While he can trim many of the leaves to maximize room in the storage space, he still needs to distribute plants between his basement and several warehouses. This seasonal removal also prohibits the bananas from ripening completely, but a newly-learned technique Meivolgel has begun experimenting with may change that in the future.

With a house so close to the road, Kevin and Donna both have at least one person per day slow down to ask “What are those?” “I took my mom to UrgiCare,” remembers Donna, “and when I told the nurse on duty my address, she pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of my house. Everyone knows us.”