Thursday, 22 November 2007

No Grubby Undies on These.

So often we ooh and aah over the big, blowsy, beauties of the Canna world. Granted, they are spectacular, but most of these can look pretty grubby when they are nearing the end of a flowering cycle. Unsightly dead flowers nestle in the heads, detracting from freshly opened blooms.

Amongst my favourite cannas are some that are better behaved. Their flowers are not enormous saucers. They are more airy looking and discard their spent flowers which enables them to always look pristine. We have no group classification for these cannas of more modest proportions. Some of them are early Crozy hybrids and many are newer Australian hybrids. They often exhibit their ancestral traits from C. iridiflora and C. glauca. A friend calls some that have non-overlapping staminodes (those things that look like petals), "Windmill Cannas". I suppose it's as good a description as any other.

Left is pictured an old heritage Canna of unknown name. It's temporary nickname is "Topsy's Spotty Foundling" and I thank Topsy for giving me a piece. It reaches approximately 1 metre (3') in height and exhibits thick, waxy blue, somewhat lanceolate foliage indicating C. glauca genes back in its pedigree. Clumping nicely and not galloping around like C. glauca, it increases moderately well. Flowers are about 10 cms in diameter (4"). It is the most spectacular spotty Canna I have. Instantly shedding aged blooms, it is always clean and neat. No dirty undies for this girl. For a while I was convinced this was old 'Kronos' as it seemed to match perfectly the old Australian nursery catalogue descriptions but they rarely stipulated the type of Canna over which they enthused. I have since learnt that the original 'Kronos' was not a Crozy type Canna as is my foundling, but an Italian type, so that shot my naming theory down in flames. Aah well, time may uncover her true identity.

Another of my neat and tidy ladies is also missing a correct name. She was found in the heart of C.F. Cole country and had been passed from mother to daughter in the one family for three generations. I can find nothing in the literature matching a possible ID for this Canna, which reinforces my vague theory that it may be another Cole hybrid. We only have a handful of descriptions for the twenty-eight named hybrids Charles Cole distributed. No description = a likely Cole hybrid. He did breed a pale lemon Canna, but that is all we know of it.

The foundling temporarily known as "Lemon Cole Foundling" is such a well behaved plant. It clumps tightly, and increases rapidly. - sorry for the lack of imagination in the nickname but accession numbers give me the pip! Leaves resemble those of C. glauca but with less blue waxy bloom. The flowers resembling those on the species C. glauca, are arranged in evenly distributed umbrels like a multi-tiered candelabra and very quickly shed their blemished flowers. This Canna relieves any possible heaviness in a bed mass planted with bigger cannas. Height under 1 metre (3'). Flowers are approximately 7 cms (around 3") across.

Both the above cannas set copious amounts of seed.

This ends my mystery neat freaks still needing their original identities. If anyone can shed some light on the identity of these two cannas, I will be delighted. Later, I will show you some named Australian hybrids who like-wise have very tidy habits and tasteful sized blooms in keeping with their stature.


  1. Personally, I also think that giving them a name is better than a number, it just becomes a synonym if you are able to trace the original name later.

  2. Too many synonyms hanging on the one Canna can also be a problem as you would know. Just think of that one with 10 names! By tacking "Foundling" on the end I'm hoping it clearly indicates that this Canna has a correct original ID lurking somewhere and its provenence indicates it is not likely to be a chance seedling. I also refuse to put the temporary name between inverted commas, thus indicating that it is not a correct name.

    It's a bit hard to say you are just going out in the garden to dig up a piece of accession number AZX19774 and one would like some assistance. One's spouse tends to look blank. This is said after you have scrambled around for an hour trying to find your accession book and carefully committed the number in ballpoint pen to the palm of your hand as memory aid. However, if I say I'm going to dig a piece of the Fred Bloggs' pink foundling, the look one is given oozes comprehension. Saves a lot of explaining.

  3. If I remember correctly, The description I sent you Malcolm of Childsii had a name of another Canna on it, it was more showey than childsii, this could be the R&Y spotted one above.
    Like an idiot I don't seem to have that description any longer on my PC!
    I think it was called Star?
    Just a thought.