Friday, 11 May 2007

Describing Canna size, foliage and flower colours

Classification by Size

All cultivars in the Canna Names database table on the Yahoo! Canna group, and the Claines Canna website, are classified as being one of the following five sizes: Giant, Large, Medium, Small, Miniature.

Giant - over 3m (9'9")

This category is confined to just a few extraordinary specimens, such as C. 'Sky Hawk', C. 'Marabout' and C. 'Omega'. Just describing them as large does not describe their extraordinary prescence and extraordinary architectural significance. These plants are serious replacements for Musa and other senior architectural plantings.

Margaret and C. 'Sky Hawk' in mid-summer, by Autumn it was much taller.
Large - from 2m (6'6") up to 3m (9'9")

Amongst the large category of Cannas are bedding favourites of Gertrude Jeykell and Christopher Lloyd, such as Canna 'Wyoming' and C. 'Roi Humbert'.

Medium - from 1m up to 2m (3'3" - 6'6")

When Herr Walter Pfitzer of Stuttgart, Germany, EU, was producing his new cultivars around the years 1880-1910 they were referred to as Dwarf Cannas, because they were so much smaller than the large specimens hybridised by Année and the other early Canna hybridisers. However, by the standards of many modern day cultivars they are positively on the large side. So the dwarf label attached to Herr Pfitzers cultivars should be treated as being relative, rather than absolute, and we have quietly dropped using it as no longer being appropriate. However, even that statement is not definitive. The Pfitzer company kept on breeding new Canna long after the death of its founder and when we reach the 1920’s most of their new cultivars fall under the category we call 'Small'.

Small - from 0.6m (2') up to 1m tall (3'3")

These are the modern day gardeners preferred canna cultivars. Capable of providing both significant foliage and flower displays, versatile enough to grow in pots as well as in borders. The garden centres preferred size, as they can fit onto display benches that the larger ones rapidly outgrow.

Miniature - up to 0.6m tall (2')

This category is confined to just a handful of truly miniature Cannas, referred to by Sydney Percy-Lancaster as Table Canna, meaning that they could be used in small vases on dinner tables as replacements for the normal orchid type flowers beloved by the restaurant industry.

Classification by Leaf Colour

We have found that the following 3 classes is sufficient to catalogue the collection:

  • Green
  • Dark
  • Variegated

Classification by Flower Colour

Colour is a little more difficult to classify, because of the many shades and permutations, however, the following general classifications work for us:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Pink
  • Multicoloured

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