Friday, 23 November 2007

No Grubby Undies on These - Part 2

Earlier we looked at two self-cleaning cannas lacking identities. Now I'd like to show you a few more that have the same habit of shedding their spent blooms and ridding themselves of their soiled petticoats.

Two of the most lovely cannas in my collection have this wonderful trait. The first is C. x 'Richmond Pearson'. Named for an American, Richmond Pearson (1852-1923), who was a diplomat and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina. It was probably raised in the USA from Crozy seed - a popular pastime in the early 1900s, but I have not yet discovered who is responsible for the introduction. It was not bred by M.Crozy. First released in Australia by Brunning's Nursery in St. Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, in 1906.

When first Canna x 'Richmond Pearson' begins to open it just looks like another boring, narrow "petalled", yellow Canna with somewhat blurry rose red spots. Nothing at all to get excited about with its average looking broadish green leaves and medium height. Then the magic begins to unfold. Many flowers open together forming a good head of blooms. The golden yellow very quickly fades to pale cream and those mucky looking spots also fade. This occurs within an hour or two of the buds popping open. This magic continues with the flower swelling in size. the staminodes becoming broader and reflexing back until each bloom looks like an exotic lily. The blooms hold very well at this stage, each one lasting several days. As soon as they begin to blemish, they are flung to the ground as there are other new blooms unfolding above them. On close examination the flowers are not perfectly round in outline, the lip being longer than the upper staminodes. Because of the reflexing this is not immediately apparent. One drawback to this cultivar is the lack of branching. Each flowering spike only branches three times giving three successive flowering heads. Fortunately it is quick to increase so there are always new leafy spikes awaiting their turn to bloom. Some hybrid Cannas will branch thirteen times from the one spike if the season is long enough.

Looks can be deceiving with my next little self-cleaner. 'Effie Cole' looks so ethereal but she is as tough as old boots and the flowers last and last. Raised by Australia's old Canna master Charles Frederick Cole, sometime between the two world wars this confection in baby pink with cream edge and lemon throat, rarely grows over 1 metre (3') tall with me. The foliage has a faint waxey bloom indicative of C. glauca in her ancestry. 'Effie Cole' is often confused with the taller pale pink 'Elma Cole'. Their colours may be similar, but they are very different cannas. 'Elma Cole' was fairly widely distributed through nursery catalogues in the 1960-70s but 'Effie Cole' never was. She was passed from one collector to another and has been distributed in more recent years, incorrectly, as 'Elma Cole' by Thelma Reiss and her daughter Vicki Staal. My thanks to these ladies for preserving such a beauty.

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