Banana tree stump

The stump.

Banana tree

How the tree looked early in the season.

I went out to weed the front garden early this morning while it was still cool. The bed runs right along the sidewalk on Colchester Avenue in Burlington, VT, so I like to keep it nice. Every year, my spouse and I plant something different, featuring colorful annuals. This year’s design includes a banana tree, which someone decided to cut down during the night.

Over the years, our front garden has drawn the attention of the people who walk by, and many take time to tell us how much they enjoy it. We get comments while we are weeding; people have left notes in our mailbox, and some have even walked up to the porch to chat.

Why does someone decide to cut down a 6-foot treasure that has been overwintered carefully since 1990-something?

Part of me is angry. What kind of jerk does this? I can deal with random acts from nature, but this is not random. This person had to think it through a bit. Maybe we’re asking for it, planting such a strange, exotic plant in the front yard on a busy street.  Should we stick to junipers, or a hedge of prickly roses?

I know this kind of vandalism happens to gardeners everywhere. Planting a garden in a public space is risky, I guess. Who hasn’t seen a street-side tree cut down or crudely snapped off by a vandal? What a heartbreak.

On my way to work, I usually look at the gardens along the way. I see how they change through the season. I note when someone tries a new plant or reworks a bed. I feel a connection with those gardeners, even though we haven’t met.

That’s why we’ll continue to plant a garden that stands out. A garden connects us to our neighbors in a disconnected time. What’s more, a front-yard garden can say a lot about the people who live there. For us, it says, “The people who live here are bananas!”

For now, the banana stump looks a lot like celery, all watery and crisp. Eventually, it will dry out and, I hope, the side shoots will emerge and grow into a new tree.

Yes, gardens connect us. They also give us hope.

The garden in 2012

Last year’s display featured a row of brugmansias (angel’s trumpets), some dahlias and lots of coleus.