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Sudden Death in the Garden

I may be a strange person. I get attached to my plants, and I think of them, not as people, of course, but as pets. Some of them are favorites. For example:

Have I bragged enough about my red banana plant? I featured it in my blog posts several times over the summer. Here is a photo I took of it just last week:

Two days after I took that shot, my red banana plant was dying. One morning it looked fine, though surely I would have seen signs if I had looked closely. By that afternoon the central stalk had wilted and fallen over and all the leaves were turning crispy brown. What strange fungus or virus killed it, I don't know. I was heartsick as I amputated the top of the plant. The core was mushy brown. Some sort of rot? I cut the stump to the ground, and at least here all the tissue appeared healthy. I covered the stump with pine straw.

Gardens are ever changing, and experience has taught me not to cling too tightly to the past. But whenever something happens to one of my plants, I grieve a little bit, and right now I am missing those beautiful banana leaves.

I have shifting emotions. There is always hope: perhaps the plant will send out new growth next year. Or I can buy another one if it doesn't. And what if the same thing happens again? Well, that is a problem for another day!

Meanwhile, I have a hoard of plants waiting to be planted as soon as the weather cools in September. I will be working on a new fern glade in the woodland garden, and I have additional plans for parts of the lady garden and front garden. And Lou wants chickens! I have to figure out what to do about that...


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Reader Comments (18)

My mom cuts her banana trees down in New Orleans in the winter and they seem to come back every year. Maybe it will work for you.

If you decide to get chickens, I hear chicken fertilizer is supposed to be great. :)

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGirlSprout

I fully understand what you mean about regarding plants as pets as we're the same here. Sometimes when a plant dies and you're not sure what the cause is, you feel sad and baffled at the same time. Perhaps the banana died of a condition called 'strangles'? Just a guess.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Such a shame, lets hope it recovers and sprouts again. Like you, I have a load of plants waiting to go in, I'm waiting for it to stop raining!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

If the banana seemed healthy where you cut it, I expect it will come back; but it is sad when plants die. But you have me on the edge of my seat - "a new fern glade", I can't wait to see what you have planned. Christina

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

I'm so used to plants dying that I start to panic if things live! It's the reason why after losing half my squash plants to neck rot a few years back, I now have way too many of them. It's life that seems to trip my garden plans up!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Idiot

Gardens are very good at reminding us about the impermanence of plants sometimes. I look at it as an excuse for change, be it a change in practices, or sometimes, if necessary, a change in plants. I think the best gardens are always in flux, and that's part of the joy of gardening. I'm sorry about your banana plant though. Hopefully it will show some signs of life in the spring.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

I hope it comes back, bigger and stronger. I, too, feel sad about any plants that die in my garden, although usually for me it's due to neglect! :(

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHolleyGarden

So sad! I too have a banana tree but in a pot. It is slated to be part of a magazine photo shoot in a few weeks so I'll be watching it even more carefully now!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Chapman

It is sad to lose a plant! Especially one you've nurtured and cared for during the years! I have lost so many plants this year to voles that my garden looks half empty. It can be rather upsetting, though some plants have survived the damage and started growing back. I hope your plant grows back next year for you!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

Chickens!!!! I would love to see chickens in your yard Deb! So sorry about the Banana. It's tough being a lover of plants!!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEve

Oh no! There are a couple of plants that I've lost that I still miss.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

I'll be curious to know if it comes back.. I cut mine to the ground every year and they come back in spades... though mushy doesn't sound good. I am a fickle plant lover myself. If I love you, I'll mourn you always, every time I look at the spot, for years running... but if you weren't all that loved I am secretly happy I killed you and freed up the space so I can try something else!

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Deb it is always sad when we have loss in the garden...I love the idea of the fern glade...can't wait to see moe about it

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

The banana looks stunning in the photo, definitely worth trying again.
Hope Lou's wish comes true ...

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

It is sad when your favourite plant dies or becomes sick i get attached to plants too sometimes and it can be heartbreaking, your garden is looking very pretty.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I guess as gardeners we do get overly attached to our plants, and why not? We put such effort into nurturing, watering, grooming them, it's hard to be there when they don't make it. Non gardeners won't understand, that no, it's not just a plant.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

If your banana plant ends up not working after all, 'King Humbert' Canna is a close second. I'm sorry to hear about the demise of your banana. Just about the time that we get this gardening thing figured out, something like this happens and we realize we have a lot more to learn.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterToni - Signature Gardens

I'm so sorry about your banana plant. In the picture it looks beautiful. Such a shame.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBecky
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