To those of you who think that Canna is just a reluctant Scotsman saying no, or even worse an expat asking for a beer; I am happy to inform you that Canna are one of the best statement plants you can grow to add height and colour to your garden. They look especially stunning set in gravel – and here is how you do it.
18th July: Things I have been doing today.
🌿 Planting Canna in gravel. Those of you who are paying close attention to this blog will remember that after a titanic struggle involving fire, water and a mighty lever, I managed to remove two areas of Pampas Grass that I planted about five years ago. The Pampas had been planted as statement plants in gravel either side of the main pedestrian gate to my house. Having decided to take them out I needed to replace them with something just as stunning, but hopefully not as problematic as the Pampas. The solution was to plant Canna which grow into large colourful plants with good flowers and interesting leaves. The variety I chose was Russian Red which grows up to six feet tall with striking red flowers. I also wanted to to take the opportunity to introduce some coloured gravel as a feature of the planting area. The photo below shows the Canna ready to go into their planting area; the plants were kept in this spot three days before planting to ensure they were orientated to the sun.
Stage 1: The first stage involves digging a hole deep enough for the Canna. The plant should sit close to the surface and be planted about nine inches apart. Once the hole is dug then fill it with water right to the top. Canna love water and can even be grown in pond margins. Whilst the hole is draining go and have a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit if you like (fatso). See photo below.
Stage 2: Plant the Canna in the ground, in this case I am putting two plants in each hole and using compost from my compost bins – those without compost bins are probably now suffering from the common gardener’s complaint “compost bin envy”. At this stage you need to add some general purpose granulated food. Mix the food in as you plant and then put a thin layer on top covered over with a light covering of soil. The photo below shows the plants almost ready to have their gravel covering.
Stage 3: Once you are happy with the position of the plants then tread the soil firmly around them. You are now ready to add the top coat of gravel. This fulfills two purposes. First, it acts as a mulch to the plant locking in water away from the heat of the sun. Second, it adds decoration and will complement the plant and draw the eye to the area. In this case I have used a reddish volcanic gravel that will match the red of the flowers when they come. Notice from the photo below that I am using a circle of irrigation tubing to help form the circle this will then have spray irrigation pieces inserted in two areas to ensure the plants are well watered every night when the irrigation comes on. The other benefit of this approach is that it keeps the gravel neat.
Stage 4: It is a good idea to add large rocks around the Canna for a number of reasons. These will act as a focal point with the gravel when the plants die back each year. They will also stop my dogs charging through and decapitating the plants. And lastly they cover the spot where I buried my wife when she called me an idiot. The photo below shows the finished product. Don’t tell the police; I will only plead insanity.
✂️ It’s time to trim your Dame de Noche. I have waxed lyrical before about the benefits of Dame de Noche (lady of the night) and I don’t want to be boring; Oh, alright if you insist. This plant is not what you would call a “looker”, a plain leaf fast growing bush it produces very small insignificant flowers. But the real reason for growing it is it’s heavenly scent which it releases at night. Planted next to an outdoor eating area it is positively intoxicating.
The secret to ensuring that scent carries on till Christmas is to reduce the plant by one third at this time of the year. The plant will recover in about a month and should reward you with a new flush of lovely scenting flowers. The photos below show my Dame de Noche prior to her trim and afterwards; I think she looks rather fetching.