Garden Diary - November 2001

What an odd month, weather-wise, this has been. There were a few intermittent chilly nights with temperatures down in the 20s Fahrenheit, My poor hardy bananna, Musa basjoo, from southern Japan turned all stiff and sere, rattling in each passing breeze. As Basjoo wrote in his famous haiku Then we'd have upward swings when balmy days would reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Confused, the banana would bravely send forth another leaf. Understand that this summer, the fourth since I planted it in a sheltered site near my study, the banana had burgeoned as never before - 6-foot long leaves and sturdy stalks that pushed them up against the roof overhang. At times the view out the study window seemed positively tropical. And I assure you that I did not mulch with Osmocote! Paul, my husband, feels that this lush growth was due to my habit of interring all the small furry fertilizer packets provided by the cats around the banana's base. But eventually November put the banana to rest for the winter. Chris, my "head gardener", cut the three thick stems down to about knee height (he had to use a had saw to do so!) Then upended plastic garbage cans with their bottom cut out were set over the trunks, then filled with oak leaves as protective mulch. A main trunk with a sizeable pup fits into one can while the other can has only a single stem. Once the temperatures are reliably chilly - that means nights consistently at freezing or lower - I'll put a top on the cans.

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