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Cannas: Lost Forever?

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PRINCE CHARMANT, 1892

The flower spikes of this courtly canna nod in graceful arcs, as if bowing to Cinderella. One of the most truly “gladiolus-flowered” of that very old group of cannas, it’s a deep, deep watermelon rose (don’t let our photo confuse you, it’s NOT red). Extra rare, re-introduced by us from France. Green leaves, 3-5 feet, from France. Last offered in spring 2004. Learn more.


RICHARD WALLACE, 1902

Gertrude Jekyll grew “yellow-bloomed cannas short and tall” in her borders at Munstead Wood, and this enduring favorite may well have been one of them. It has calla-like flowers and some of the most beautiful leaves of all cannas: big, glossy, and apple green. 5-6 feet, from Oklahoma. Last offered in spring 2010. Learn more. Widely available elsewhere.


ROBERT KEMP, 1900?

Beloved by hummingbirds, ‘Robert Kemp’ looks like a wild canna with its tiny, vibrant red petals massed into torch-like clusters held on six-or-seven-foot stalks above lush green leaves. Its history is obscure (can you tell us anything?), but from its “country primitive” look we know that it’s old. From Missouri. Last offered in spring 2010. Learn more. Available elsewhere.


ROI HUMBERT, 1902

Tall and dramatic, ‘Roi Humbert’ combines bold scarlet flowers with bronze foliage. A “sensation” in 1915 (Livingston Seed catalog), ‘Roi’ later played a leading role in the Red Borders at Hidcote, and chances are your grandparents grew it — or still do! Aka ‘Red King Humbert’, though some experts disagree. From Oklahoma. Last offered in spring 2007. Learn more. Widely available elsewhere.


SEMAPHORE, 1895

Champagne, the Statue of Liberty, and ‘Semaphore’! In the late 1800s, the world’s most exciting cannas were coming from France, and this rare beauty was one of them. Its unusually narrow leaves are a deep, purple-bronze, and its slender flowers a radiant, golden-saffron-amber-orange. Ooo-la-la! (Ian Cooke says trendy ‘Pacific Beauty’ is just this renamed.) 5-6 feet, from Missouri. Last offered in spring 2010. Learn more.


SHENANDOAH, 1894

The pure, blissfully pink flowers of this Victorian treasure glow against leaves of dusky burgundy. Bred over a century ago by Pennsylvania canna-master Leon Wintzer, it had disappeared from US gardens until we reintroduced it last year. Stock is still very limited, so order early! 3-4 feet, from Missouri. Last offered in spring 2010. Learn more.


STADT FELLBACH, 1934

A “cream of the crop” canna, according to UK National Collection holder Ian Cooke, this vigorous beauty is apricot pink highlighted by a blaze of creamy yellow and a curling, spotted tongue. Bred by Wilhelm Pfitzer, the 20th century’s greatest canna breeder. Green leaves, 3-5 feet, from Oklahoma. Last offered in spring 2010. Learn more. Available elsewhere.


WYOMING, 1906

Christopher Lloyd, the beloved guru of English gardening, ranked this as one of his all-time favorite cannas. With rich, dark bronze foliage and flowers of sunset-orange that he described as “bright yet by no means aggressive,” it turns 103 this spring! 3-5 feet, from Oklahoma. Last offered in spring 2010. Learn more. Widely available elsewhere.


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