Friday, 20 July 2007

New Italian cultivars

An article by Professor F. A. Waugh, University of Vermont, taken from the Garden and Forest Journal [Volume 10, Issue 501. [September 29, 1897, 379-388]

Notes on the Orchid-flowering Cannas.

WE have been greatly interested in the new Orchid-flowering Cannas since their first announcement, and have taken some pains to grow most of the varieties offered for sale. A note regarding the variety America was sent to GARDEN AND FOREST some weeks ago (see vol. x., page I78), and a completer account has been more recently published in the Tenth Annual Report of the Vermont Experiment Station, page 119. Since that report went to press we have brought two new varieties of these Cannas into blossom. These are Bavaria and Burgundia, both from the lists of Dammann & Co., the originators of Italia, Austria and America. We are somewhat disappointed in these two newest varieties, not because of bad qualities, but on account of their close resemblance to Italia. Italia is a beautiful Canna, to be sure, perhaps the best one of this class yet introduced, but Burgundia and Bavaria are so much like it that a careless observer would pass them by as all of the same kind.

Both varieties are, however, of smaller stature than Italia and have smaller foliage. The flowers in all three are of a brilliant canary-yellow upon which two shades of rich apricot-red are successively overlaid. In Italia the red colors are run together in the throat to make somewhat regular solid blotches bordered with very deep bands of the clear yellow, like an exaggerated Queen Charlotte. In Bavaria there is very little of the darker red shade, while the lighter red is scattered in small dots well out upon the petal-like staminodia, giving an effect more like that of Florence Vaughan. Burgundia is almost a medium between Bavaria and Italia, with more of the dark overlying red than the former, and more of the leopard spottings than in the latter. Burbank, the only variety of American origin yet advertised, does not seem to have been noted so much in the horticultural press as its good qualities deserve. It is the equal of the Italian varieties. The flowers have the form of Italia and nearly the coloring of Austria. That is to say their form is the best, and their coloring pure canary yellow with a few faint reddish spots in the throat.

These new Cannas, hybrids of Madame Crozy with C. flaccida, are especially admirable for two qualities, namely, the perfection of form and the richness of color in their blossoms. The type of Canna-flower which we are used to seeing among the French dwarfs, when taken by itself, is singularly inharmonious and unsatisfying in its outlines, but there is a fullness of form and grace of outline among the Orchid-flowering sorts which by comparison is altogether pleasing. Their richness of coloring is remarkable. The comparative size of the flowers has been considerably overstated in the advertisements. They are quite large enough, to be sure, but they are only a little larger in fact than Charles Henderson, Alphonse Bouvier, or dozens of other old and well-known varieties. Several of these varieties we have had this year in quantities sufficient for liberal use in outdoor beds. Their large, luxuriant, Musa-like foliage is quite effective, but there is a noticeable paucity of flowers in comparison with the older French dwarf sorts. The softness and flaccidity of the blossoms detract somewhat, of course, from their usefulness out-of-doors, but not so seriously as we had expected. The flower-spikes, though comparatively few in number, are fairly durable and effective as far as they go.

The Orchid-flowering Cannas-and, by the way, they ought to have a better class name-are certainly attractive novelties for the amateur, but in their present state they are not likely to find great favor among professional gardeners, who are interested chiefly in gaudy red and yellow floral effects.
University of Vermont. F. A. Waugh.

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