Exotic in their looks and important in agriculture as a source of starch, the genus Canna gives us a touch of the tropics in our late summer gardens. NC Holders of Canna, Keith and Christine Hayward, held their annual Open Days over the Bank Holiday weekend and although I see the two of them regularly at shows, it was the first time that I had visited their Collection in situ. They have an extensive nursery site in Bisley where they propagate for sale and overwinter the plants, but their garden in Farnborough showcases the Collection. Keith credits all the hard work of this site to Christine while he concentrates on the nursery. But they both live up to their motto ‘Canna help’ when it comes to enthusing gardeners about their Collection.
Canna yellow streak virus is widespread in this country and Europe and Keith had left a plant exhibiting the disease so that visitors could find out about it. Keith describes it as yellow streaks running along the leaf veins about 3mm wide and pointed at each end. Sometimes a streak is broken in the middle which then presents as two wedges back to back. Often the leaf is also quite speckled. Keith controls the problem in his plants by buying a special compost, mixed to his recipe and containing a systemic insecticide to target aphids, carriers of the virus. This plant was destined for destruction at the end of the Open Weekend.
Keith was responsible for the clarification of the naming of C.’Durban’/'Phasion’. Having grown ‘Durban’ for a few years he recognised the plant being sold as ‘Phasion’ (with Plant Breeders Rights) as the same plant. With evidence from many sources including photographs from a prize-winning Hampton Court display predating the PBR award date, Keith took his case to the Community Plant Variety Office responsible for the awarding of PBR in Angers France and won.
I particularly liked the variety of leaf colour on C. ‘Cleopatra’. Some plants come up with completely dark foliage and others with stripes.
And for a flower delicate both in colour and form – C. ‘Panache’
There is a series of Aquatic Cannas, which can tolerate their roots in water, named after famous ships – C. ‘Ra’ afer Thor Heyerdahl’s boats used to cross the Atlantic and C. ‘Endeavour’ after Captain Cook’s command in his exploration of the Pacific. C. ‘Erebus’ and ‘Taney’ are named after ships used in the Anglo-American War of 1812 and at Pearl Harbour respectively.
Local and friend Jim Ranger bred C. ‘Golden Orb’ and was visiting the Collection.