It takes a while to grasp that not all failures are self-imposed, the result of ignorance, carelessness or inexperience. It takes a while to grasp that a garden isn't a testing ground for character and to stop asking, what did I do wrong? Maybe nothing.
~Eleanor Perényi, Green Thoughts, 1981
I spend some of my time volunteering at my local municipal greenhouse. There they grow the plants for the city’s park gardens, conservatory and create the huge hanging baskets that line some of the main streets. At the greenhouse this was Canna week.
Cannas are native to the tropical and sub-tropical Americas and West Indies. South Americans reportedly used the rootstock for food. They are grown for their fantastic foliage and flowers and some species can grow to over 6 feet tall. Leaf color can be green, bronze, maroon, orangey, solid or striped.
Three to four weeks ago the cannas that jazzed our city parks were dug up to make way for fall plantings. They were then piled up outdoors and covered with permeable cloth at the greenhouse. We’ve had a few hard frosts here which blackened the leaves, so the time was right to prepare them for winter storage. They’ll be replanted in spring when the gardens are designed for summer color.
While others tended the poinsettias, my task was to cut off all the Canna’s foliage down to the rhizomes (tuberous rootstocks) and place them on wire racks to dry out for winter storage. It was pouring buckets that day, so I was a muddy mess pronto.
Around here, Cannas are normally hardy. Most people leave them in the ground or pots. Last year was my first year to plant Canna in my garden. I bought Canna indica from http://www.oldhousegardens.com/. Their catalog reports it is a Canna from the Indies introduced to Europe 400 years ago. The leaves were reason enough to have it…bright green and looked just like a banana leaf, but the red flowers intrigued me more. Indica’s flowers look so delicate, unlike the typical Canna and are reportedly a hummingbird magnet. Planted in late April, it came up too late in the spring for the flowers to form but the leaves were fabulous! A must have for the leaves alone, I am hooked. What a statement they made in my garden which has mostly medium to small leafed perennials.
Do you grow Canna? Are your winter temps not optimal for its survival? Do you dig it to save it or plant new every year? If you’ve never tried one I encourage you to give it a go next spring. If you mail order you’ll want to get your orders in now for best selection.
In bloom in my garden today: Kirengeshoma palmata, Borage, Daphne, Digitalis (foxglove), Salvia, Nepeta (cat mint), Solanum crispum (potato vine), Phygelius (cape fushia) Schizostylis (river lily), Alyssum
Food ready for the birds: Caryopteris seeds, Mountain Ash berries, Pyracantha berries, Echinacea seeds, Coreopsis seeds, Liatris seeds.