My banana broke. We had some incredibly stormy weather on Friday and I think the high winds must have been too much for it. The large leaves have been buffeted over, snapping the stem half way down. I didn’t expect this. It’s in a fairly sheltered spot. But there’s no accounting for British weather.
It’s disappointing, obviously. And yet I’m not devastated, which has surprised me. I remember in my first year in this garden, I planted a delphinium and watched with delighted anticipation as it sent up a single flower stem. Buds began to form and were on the verge of opening, when it was broken by a strong gust of wind, and it was all over. I was so upset. I had invested so much in that flower spike, and it came to nothing.
The thing is, I realise now that gardening isn’t like other endeavours. It’s not about working hard, investing your care, time, energy and money, in order to complete a project. The project will never be done. When you’re gardening you’re working to an infinite timeline. Every season is new and different. Every spring, we start again. Perennials grow back. Biennials peak and then die. Annuals are only around for this year. Some plants just die or are damaged, and it doesn’t matter. The garden will keep on growing and changing.
It’s wise to remember that TV garden make-over shows have got us all confused. You can’t finish doing up your garden. The plants, soil, wildlife, weather, everything out there, won’t stop doing what they do the moment the TV crew does the big reveal. It’s nature we’re talking about after all, not the contents of an Ikea showroom. The new plants and weeds will keep growing, things will decay or fall foul of pests and diseases, little creatures will eat your plants and each other. And this is all normal and right. Gardening is our attempt to tame nature, and nature won’t stop just because we’re happy with the way our garden looks now.
So it doesn’t do to be hung up on making your garden stay the same always, or to freak out if something goes wrong. I’m not in this for the big reveal moment. It’s about being part of that infinite gardening timeline. My banana is a herbaceous perennial and next year it should grow again. I’m going to wrap it up warm for winter, hope it survives the cold, and watch for new growth next spring. Here’s hoping, musa basjoo*. xx
(*The Urban Jungle has some handy FAQs about this banana variety, if you’d like to grow one yourself.)