Wednesday, 31 December 2008

That was the year that was - Malcolm

At least with Christmas day out of the way, no one at work or in the supermarket can now ask you if you are ‘ready’ or are ‘all set.’

All set for what? One day of eating and drinking our own body weight in eggnog and Brazil nuts? It will take weeks to remove the extra pounds I've put on!

Being my last blog of the year, I thought I would reflect on the year gone by and have a little look forward at what’s to come in 2009.

Once again we have managed to collect new varieties for the collection, and as we travel abroad we are amazed at how easy it is. We just keep our eyes open and gardeners in all countries are more than willing to share their plants with fellow gardeners. We find that a bottle of wine in return creates lasting friendships. Then those new friends become long-term friendships, and exchanges continue over the years.

New cultivars to the collection include Canna 'Alba Rosea Grandiflora', C. 'Breuil', C. 'Commandant Rivière', C. 'Guayaquilla', C. 'François Crozy', C. 'Cannes' and C. 'Capricieux'. There are others, but my memory is not as good as it was and I don't have our records near me while I write this. As usual, we are delighted by the new finds and we look forward to sharing these treasures next year.

Unfortunately, we again seem to have had too much weather, not only here in England but Canna enthusiasts around the world have reported that they were suffering changes in their normal weather patterns.

Growing tropical plants in the UK requires a tremendous amount of hard physical work, and when we have summers such as the last two years, then we do not get much enjoyment for all that work. If this weather pattern continues, so we will scale down our collection accordingly, so that we can see some return for our hard work, after all, it is only a hobby!

However, the weather has wider implications. A third miserable summer in parts of the UK could spell disaster for many species of insects, bird life and mammals, the National Trust warned recently. The charity says three wet summers in a row in many regions could mean that creatures - ranging from crane flies (often called daddy-long-legs) to species of butterflies, members of the tit family, puffins and bats - may struggle to survive in some places.

During 2008 we experimented with some Canna beds being fertilized with horse manure and others using various types of packaged fertilizer. We found that the beds fertilized by horse manure provided the best results, closely followed by those that had been fed with chicken manure pellets. We have decided to only use these two next year, using the chicken pellets when horse manure is not available.

This summer we also followed Bernard Yorkes advice and experimented with seaweed fertilizer as a supplementary feed for the Cannas. We are now totally converted and will continue using a liquid feed at weekly intervals during the main growing periods, and after long periods of poor light, as it actually improves the quality of existing foliage as well as stimulating excellent new leaves.

Nowhere have we seen listed the "perfect" mineral combinations for Cannas. We intend to experiment with that this year and see if we can formulate the perfect Canna feed. It may take several years before we can be sure that we have it right, as weather also has a high effect on Canna growth.

More and more historical information became available in 2008, as the web tries to satisfy an insatiable quest for more knowledge. I suspect 2009 will make even more knowledge accessible to us enthusiasts, and I look forward to the Canna community resolving more of the many Canna riddles still not solved.

In 2009, we have decided that we will be trying to garden in an almost 100% organic manner, but if we need a chemical to save a Canna disaster then we will use it.

Finally, Margaret and I would like to wish all of our Canna friends a Happy New Year in 2009.

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year to you as well!

    The weather experts are predicting a record breaking year for temps! Lets hope they are right!