Mama's hosta is a symbol of life and loss, but in my original writing of the scene with its loss I hadn't developed an introduction for it - that's what initial drafts are for though. We get it down on the page so that we can make the connections and work out a taxonomy of importance. The hosta, I realised, as I had it dying and its leaves falling about the girl, was a key emotional link to how life had been and how it has gone. And I'd wasted it.
In the next draft I split it up so that the introduction of the hosta and Mama's attachment to it was well established and interlaced with some characterisation (page 6):
She took cuttings of the more flourishing plants and potted them for her window box. There also she planted a plaintain lily: a hosta she’d rescued from the unkempt and overgrown grounds at school. She devoted herself to its resurrection and fell in love with the lilac flowers it produced in August. Against the azure heavens their tubular heads reminded her of organ pipes.
When we come back to the hosta, the decay of the flora is already in full swing. I have chosen to build up the tension for Mama as she discovers more and more failing plant life, and tries (and fails) to save them, ending with:
That’s where her parents found her, trembling in the corner. She was stood beneath the overhang of her own window box with the variegated leaves of her favoured hosta tangled in her hair and collected in clumps about her feet.Finally, I rely on the re-introduction of a hosta at the end of the story. Though I'm not copying that extract here.
Its purpose brings us full circle, and then some. A live hosta for a dying mum, but then it becomes synchronous of her death.