Sunday, November 21, 2010

Razzle & tatty dazzle

One of my most fabulously lurid flowers is at it again. Blooming, I mean. It's my 'Bengal Tiger' canna lily. In polite gardening circles the colour orange is regarded as being a bit, well... Mardi Gras, I guess. Fortunately I don't stand a chance of ever mingling in polite circles, and so I can indulge in a bit of over-the-top tropical colour. And that's where I have come unstuck this time round. My razzle has turned into tatty dazzle. Let me explain...

Taken a couple of mornings ago when rain was about, this is the canna lily in bloom, with these big, soft flowers sitting atop a spike that's about at human head height.

The 'Bengal Tiger' part of its name comes from the striped foliage, which is even more tropical looking than the flowers.

This is that tall flower spike I mentioned earlier. As each dazzling bloom ends, another one lower down the stalk pops out and blooms for a week. This thing sends up lots of spikes and blooms for most of the summer, and it doesn't need much help from me. In fact I've done the opposite.

I've pulled most of it out. It spreads like crazy. From one plant in a 6-inch pot five or six years ago it grew into a monster clump that spread more than a metre in every direction. And when its flower spikes came up amongst Pam's beloved frangipani and actually dared to rub against the frangi's tender bark, well that was it! So I dug up the clumps, replanted just a few, and replaced them with another tropical flowering beauty that I hoped would be better behaved. And that's where my cunning plan came somewhat unstuck.

This close-up of my ornamental Red Tower flowering ginger doesn't look like a plan coming unstuck.

I planted a few of them, and this is another one. Again, not so bad close up.

However, take a few steps back and check out the hideous, tatty foliage! Not sure what I've done wrong here. I've fed it, watered it and patrolled for pests – and the foliage looks dreadful. Maybe I need to cut it back in spring, but as I could see the flower buds forming at that time that is the last thing I wanted to do. So I obviously need to do some research to find out where I went so horribly wrong.

Why did I get rid of good old razzle and replace it with tatty dazzle? Just file it away in that bulging folder labelled "regrets, I have a few", I guess. Next year I promise to do better.


julie paterson - garden said...

Hi Jamie - Is your red flowering ginger in the sun?? I have the same plant in my garden & have found in the shade it behaves beautifully (lush foliage), but give it some sun & it becomes easily burnt & "scrappy" looking.

lotusleaf said...

Your canna is dazzling. I hope your flowering ginger recovers.

patientgardener said...

I dont understand why people dont like the orange canna flowers I think they are gorgeous. Here in the UK I think they are beginning to be appreciated more just like the bright Dahlias

Jamie said...

That might well be it. As soon as I read your comment I thought "sunburn, of course". Looks like I'll be moving my ginger to a shadier spot next winter...