Saturday, Oct. 01, 2011
Dear Diary:

So here we are, with September in the rear view mirror, and still no killing frost. The leaves have have painted our mountains with swaths of red, orange and yellow. We have those lovely foggy autumn mornings, but no frost.

Foggy autumn mornings.

It kills me to have to start knocking down my beloved gardens while the temperatures are still warm and all my annual plants are going mental with blooms. But last year I dithered until the last moment and found myself digging dead plants out of a generous layer of hand numbing freezing slush.

I may be a slow learner, but learn I do.

Last fall I also had the added joy of having to wade into my small pond when the water was just a few degrees above freezing. I had to drop all my water lilies down to the deepest part so they could survive the winter. That was an experience. Oh yes, that was an experience. No need to repeat that one.

So with a heavy heart I've started to tear things down.

I am incredibly cheap a thrifty gardener. I haunt end of season sales. About four years ago I got two pots, each with a purple leafed canna in it, for a buck. Fiddy cents each!

A lot of gardeners look down their noses at these plants because they've been used a lot in boring municipal plantings. Me, I adore the outsize tropical look they give to a garden. They're the big assed plants in the top left of this picture of our walkway.

I love me those big tropical looking plants.

Because they're tropical, I have to dig up the tubers each fall, drop them into a bag, cover them with peat moss, and store them for the winter in my basement. Year one that was easy peasy because I started out with two tiny tubers, each about the size of a large egg.

Let's talk math. To be more specific, let's talk exponential math. I did well in math at school, but I always found it, um, kind of ephemeral, you know what I mean?

The two tiny canna tubers I planted that following spring flourished. They loved the soil I've worked so hard to amend for the last 30 years. They grew over eight feet tall and when I dug up the tubers that first fall I could see they had multiplied appreciably. BONUS!

I thought.

Fast forward to year two. Same story. By year three I had enough tubers to not only plant a generous clump at the top of my walkway, I could also plant a generous clump in my long border and even some behind the house. BONUS!

I thought.

Save me from the cannas.The last day of September I started digging up this year's canna tubers. Four years ago I started out with two tubers, each the size of a large egg. Behold exponential math made real. Yeah. I now have a wheelbarrow mounded with canna tubers.

This means that by next fall I will have something in the range of TWO wheelbarrows full of canna tubers. Holey moley.

A sane gardener would, at that point, simply leave a few tubers in the ground to freeze and die. I mean, seriously, how many cannas does one woman need?

I guess I'll find that out next fall, eh?


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