A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Runts & Bananas
Thursday, September 24, 2009

It is strange how we accept that people, individuals that they are, must by necessity be different. Yet we expect (or at least this gardener expects) plants to be all the same in the sense that all roses Rosa ‘Evelyn’ will be good garden plants if the plant has a good reputation. There are reasons for this in that many plants are clones of a mother plant. But gardeners have begun to understand that several generations of cloning can weaken the resulting plant. Many of these plants simply do not perform at all. This was the case for my English Rose, Rosa ‘Evelyn’. It has been doing little with great consistency in my garden.

But it all changed this year and I must give credit to my wife Rosemary. About 6 months ago she insisted I serve her a sliced banana with brown sugar for breakfast. This has been her daily fare since. When I go out (she is unable to drive these days because of her badly fractured ankle) she tends to ask me, “Are there bananas for tomorrow?” And it is not only bananas for breakfast. I like to throw a banana or two into the blender with some ice; a bit of sugar and water (water is Argentine style) for our lunch or dinner beverage. Or I will use yoghurt instead of water. In short I make sure we always have bananas.

Bananas are high in potassium. Potassium is one of the most important needs of a healthy rose bush. Potassium is good for their roots. I have been slicing the banana peels and dropping them around my rose bushes. It has been a banner year for roses. Roses like dry weather (if you water their roots) and obviously they like banana peels, too!

The leaf in the scan is that of Hosta ‘Sun Power’. This is a hosta that I almost gave up on. I purchased it many times and every time after a so-so year it would begin to revert to juvenility. The leaves would become smaller and looked stunted until the plant would simply go away without saying goodbye. Although it has yet to be studied in detail I have shared my experiences with Sun Power and other hostas that decline quickly with no apparent reason. My friend Donald Hodgson (he had a small wholesale hosta nursery in North Vancouver and alas he died last year) called hostas that tended to do this, runts. Runts runted. Donald and I put Sun Power on our runt list.

This year Sun Power rewarded me with huge leaves, thick and healthy and with that sexy twist of the leaves that is one of its best known qualities. Thanks to some afternoon sun the leaves have changed from light green, to chartreuse and then bleached ever so nicely to a beautiful yellow. In the dark corner of the garden where it is, Sun Power is a little botanical beacon.

Who would have suspected that Evelyn and Sun Power would have conspired to please me this year? Another poor grower, Rosa ‘Mary Web’ (right being held by Lauren) is right next to Sun Power. This year this pale yellow rose (almost the colour of whipped cream) that usually blooms once, did so twice. Why? Bananas.


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Sunday Drolleries

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