I put it in a pot and set it outside all summer. It unrolled really fun red-striped leaves and golden-orange flowers and stretched six feet tall. It was wildly expressive and sturdy at the same time, an endearing combination of qualities in any living thing. It grew like mad, until the frost got it.
Then I cut off the dripping stalks, pried the rhizome out of its pot and stuck it in a box carelessly deposited in a warm spot in the basement–cannas are that easy. The next spring, I planted it in a much bigger pot–a giant, expensive Italian terra cotta pot I’d bought years earlier for some ridiculous, theoretical rose-in-container experiment. The pot was so heavy that I could barely heave it up onto its plinth, which is the stump of an old maple. I did the same thing again last year, though the rhizome was now so big, I could barely stuff it into the big pot.
Last fall, I was out with my wheelbarrow trying to wrestle canna plus pot off of maple stump, when a tipping point was reached–a certain combination of weight plus girth that even the bends-steel-with-her-bare-hands gardener could not handle. In other words, I dropped the thing, and the nice thick Italian pot broke.
This year, I did something I thought I’d never, ever do. I bought an even bigger Italian pot, only this one is made out of some kind of weird extruded foam. At a distance of 100 yards, it is approximately the color of terra cotta, especially if your vision is poor. It has built-in wheels, so that even when planted snugly with giant rhizome and potting soil, I could drag it from my porch to my bay window to give the canna a jump on the season. In combination with soil and canna, the pot is still heavy, but not so heavy that a sumo-quality gardener like me won’t be able to wrestle it onto a stump. I think this pot might be truly hideous.
But what alternative do I have? Chop up the canna rhizome and crimp its glory, after it’s given me such happiness?
I’ve decided instead only to look at the pot with one eye closed. In an imperfect world, forgiveness is the essence of love. There’s always a choice between putting up with all the furniture-shredding, finger-eating, laptop defecating, ugly-pot-necessitating life forms that make every day a banquet–or the sterility of keeping it all under control.