The day the musa died

With apologies to my most persistent earworm, this is a momentous morning. There was an odd feeling about yesterday. I did some digging. I was looking at the lumps and thinking that frost would break them up. But not for a while. And I cut the grass, watching for the slender spikes of lilac that would mean that Crocus speciosus would be about to bloom. And I looked at the salvias and admired them. I passed by the dahlias. The tubers were not delivered till June and they had a poor start. Some have bloomed by not all. Will I see flowers this summer I wondered.

Then, last night I looked up at the stars in the crystal clear night. As I watch more documentaries about the universe I find I am less reassured about our place on this spinning rock and more terrified as I look up at the infinite freezing vacuum of space. The thin veneer of warmth around the earth was being sucked away even as I watched.

And so, this morning, as expected, I awoke to a frost. It is no surprise that, at Kate’s Bridge in Northern Ireland, the coldest place in the British Isles, it was -3c, the coldest September night on record. Here it was -2c.

According to research, because of global warming, the frost-free period, the growing season, is lengthening all over the world, by about 10 days in the US and similarly in Europe. But not here.

This year we have had 137 days without frost, hardly enough to grow tender plants outside. Usually the first frost of autumn is early November. After the end of the first week of November we are on borrowed time.

But this is really upsetting.

I know most plants will survive, though my poor salvias have probably had it, left out for too long. It makes me wonder if they are worth bothering with if they can only be outside for three months.

The good new is that, despite my misleading title, I planted the banana in the most sheltered spot I have, with overhead trees and it is fine – so far.


9 Comments on “The day the musa died”

  1. mitzybricker
    September 27, 2020 at 11:34 am #

    We have had a frost too!

    Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia

  2. Andrea Godkin
    September 27, 2020 at 1:02 pm #

    Geoff, Where did you purchase your Banana plant from?

    • thebikinggardener
      September 27, 2020 at 1:28 pm #

      It is Must banjo, the hardiest of the mush. I can’t remember where I got it now but it is widely available and I am pretty sure that both Springmount and Beechdale have them in stock at the moment if you are in Wexford

  3. tonytomeo
    September 28, 2020 at 3:18 am #

    In some climates, bananas get frosted to the ground, and then regenerate from the rhizomes annually. Some types spread over the years. However, some may not spread, but only replace themselves with one or two new trunks, and then die out within only a few years. I do not grow them (here) because they do not get frosted suddenly, but instead deteriorate for a long time, and need to be cut down while still viable. I will grow them again eventually.

  4. digwithdorris
    September 28, 2020 at 5:26 pm #

    If you can resist cutting back the brown stalks of the salvias and mulch the base of plant it might revive next spring

    • thebikinggardener
      September 30, 2020 at 9:45 am #

      I think I may carefully dig them up and put them in the polytunnel – they survived in there last year. I am a bit late to take cuttings but I will take a few too.

  5. Paddy Tobin
    September 30, 2020 at 9:40 am #

    Yes, frost and autumn are well in and we are allowing the garden to die down naturally – less dead-heading and preening and just leaving things take their natural course until we decide it is time to clear it all up before winter really hits.

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