Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Still going after 112 years

Extract from the Garden & Forest Journal of March 20, 1895

The advance of the Canna to its present position as an ornamental plant is one of the marvels of modern horticulture. Unlike the Canna 'Star of 1891', which created a sensation when first introduced, Madame Crozy (see print left) still remains among the indispensable varieties, and a large percentage of recent introductions are seedlings or derivations from this remarkable plant. The yellow border on its petals has given the cue to efforts in the direction of a pure yellow, and this seems to have been the aim of nearly all raisers of new varieties. Improved forms of Madame Crozy have been the result, but the type after all is probably the best. Its moderate height, handsome foliage and short compact spike make it the ideal. Improvements, however, have not been altogether on this type.

In crimsons we have Charles Henderson and Alphonse Bouvier; the former has the larger spike, finer flowers and dwarfer, sturdier habit. Alphonse Bouvier is an abundant bloomer, but is much taller; these two hold a superior rank in their color. Captain Suzzoni is the best yellow of the sorts that now can be called standard. It is not, however, a pure yellow, though the orange-red spots are so faint that for general effect it may be classed as such. Florence Vaughan (see photo right) is an elegant Canna as far as quality of flower and size of spike are concerned, but it is hardly a yellow variety, and should be classed among the spotted varieties. It has the finest yellow ground with scarlet spots of any Canna yet sent out. Captain Suzzoni as a winter bloomer is superior to Florence Vaughan, and in this respect it is equal to Madame Crozy. Taken from the border last autumn it has bloomed continuously all winter, and is now the brightest and best of any. Florence Vaughan received a check, indicating its relation to the older types, which needed some resting. Paul Marquant is a fine satiny salmon, free, and first-class in every way, especially as a winter bloomer. Paul Bruant is a beautiful orange-scarlet, large in flower and one of the first bloomers. This also has proved an admirable greenhouse variety this winter.

Among dark-leaved varieties, J. D. Cabos, with bronzy leaves and salmon flowers; Egandale, with crimson flowers, and the first bloomer of any, and President Carnot, the handsomest in foliage, make a beautiful trio. J. D. Cabos is hardly comparable with either, the glistening salmon-tinted flower contrasting beautifully with the metallic lustre of the foliage. These are the best varieties now in general cultivation.

In novelties every one is inclined to'have favorites of his own. Last summer and autumn I made it a point to note the coming introductions. Eldorado will prove to be one of the finest yellow-flowered sorts this season. It has a large flower, as fine a spike and as good in habit as Madame Crozy, and it is practically yellow. It has some markings, but not enough to detradt from the brilliancy or effectiveness of the flower. Every one who sees it is enthusiastic over it. It is very showy and must become popular. F. R. Pierson will probably be the best scarlet of the season. It bears an ideal flower, brilliant in tone, with only a delicate penciling of pure gold at the centre of the flower, which seems to intensify the scarlet. The petals are very large, round, overlapping each other, reaching near what we must sooner or later obtain in this desirable class of bedding plants --a perfectly round flower.
The Belle of Newport is, so far, the only pure yellow Canna. It is very dwarf, and in this respect promises to be of exceptional value as a bedder. It, however, lacks size, but, no doubt, it will be found valuable for hybridizing with the larger-flowered varieties, and may lead toward a new race of dwarf yellow varieties. The flower of the new socalled Butterfly Canna, Golden Wings, may be described as having a deep yellow ground, heavily blotched with brownish crimson. It will be a fitting companion to Queen Charlotte (see print right), a novelty of German origin-a scarlet, heavily banded with yellow. Both are beautiful and distinct, and especially adapted for effect when used with the darker-leaved varieties in masses. For bedding purposes, and especially for lines, Oriole will probably surpass any of the banded yellows yet introduced. Columbia is a novelty of American origin, and a very distinct break in character. The heads of bloom are most compact, deep cardinal-red, without any shadings; the spikes branch, and the flowers remain on longer than those of any other variety, a most valuable characteristic. Sunshine is much in the way of Paul Marquant, an unusually free bloomer, and bears the largest flower of any Canna I have seen. It has a soft, satiny lustre, and is not excelled by any of its color.

Admiral Avellan I consider an improvement on J. D. Cabos, and this is saying a good deal. It is well worth a trial where a handsome bronzy-leaved variety, which is also a good bloomer, is required. General de Miribel is a good spotted salmon of splendid habit and fine large flowers, and Gladstone is a distinct and pleasing novelty with buff-colored flowers, bordered with yellow. Mrs. Fairman Rogers is a variety in the way of Madame Crozy, which has been honored with a silver medal by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. The flowers are more heavily banded with yellow than those of Madame Crozy, but its principal value lies in the great size of its branched flower-spike. Its habit is dwarf, and promises to be the best of the Crozy type yet introduced.

Wellesley, Mass. T. D. Hatfield.

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