Recently with the help of Zoom I attended a wonderful lecture on Frederick Law Olmsted…
No middle ground when it comes to the popular plant known as canna. You either like it or you don’t.
It remains, nonetheless, a popular flower for the summer garden bed.
Writer and botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey wrote about the canna in the September 6, 1893 issue of Garden and Forest Journal.
He mentioned their magnificent display at the World’s Fair that year in Chicago.
What was the World’s Fair? Just the greatest show on earth. Nations from around the world could show off their inventions, art work, mass produced products, and, of course, their plants.
What plants you had was certainly important to every nation.
Bailey wrote, “This great display of Cannas, extending over a total length of a thousand feet, is now the most conspicuous feature of the environs of the Horticultural Building.”
Cannas were, after all, a popular Victorian plant.
Cannas appeared in masses at the Chicago Fair, as Noel Kingsbury writes in The Story of Flowers and How They Changed the Way We Live.
In the photo above the dark leaves on the tall canna bring out its wonderful appeal. It makes the container look both so grand and stately at the same time.
After the international Chicago Fair everybody had to have the popular canna.
Noel Kingsbury writes in his book Garden Flora, “The speed of growth [of the canna] was recognized early on by Europeans and led to the plant’s popularity for bedding out.”
So today though there may still be a bit of reluctance to plant canna, there is also still a passion for its grand display in the landscape.