Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Friends in high places!

Today I played phone tag with Joan, but the gist of the message she delivered to me was that she had the brilliant idea of contacting Tom Ammiano, our Assemblyman up in Sacramento!

She emailed and his people emailed back! They said he's getting ready to come back to the city, has a bit of time on his hands, and would look into it! One can only imagine the power of a bored politician - fingers crossed he doesn't have any more pressing tasks to deal with.

I for one voted for Tom for Mayor (sorry Gav, love ya anyway) and one has to think that such a lovely chap would see where we're coming from here.

Which reminds me, what's Sophie Maxwell up to? I sicced her people on Caltrans too - perhaps they have made contact and assessed the situation. I will find out.

At any rate, we're making a fuss here. Squeaky wheel and all that. Thanks Joan for your stroke of genius!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meeting with Caltrans

Today I met with the team from Caltrans at Farley's, and later we decamped to the garden. I was joined by, and really appreciated the support of Gary, John, David and Anna!

The meeting brought up, and answered some questions:
1. Will a wifi sprinkler system work at P. Garden? (Answer, probably not)
2. Will Caltrans provide sprinkler or drip components and install them? (No, but Jes gave me some parts so I'll do it myself, goshdarnit)
3. Can the current sprinkler system be switched back on? (Yes, in fact landscaping expert Mr Robert Poyas, who was there too, went right over and set the sprinklers to come on for 30 mins every Monday and Thursday at 4am. Well now. That was easy! Thanks!)
4. What aspects of the garden need to be revised to comply with Caltrans Adopt-a-Highway rules?

Well, more than a one line answer for that...

They have said that the arch, paths, steps, bench and now even the woven twig borders are a no-go. Reasons? Liability. Encouraging homeless people. Tripping hazard (border edges... a tripping hazard. Not like those sprinklers set up at shin height in the middle of pathways recently by Caltrans - oh no...)

They also said people under 16 years of age cannot enter the garden. And people cannot cross the road by the Wrong Way sign. And so on... and on...

Obviously these are sensible rules for freeways, and the P. Garden team pointed out in many ways that this is the case. And that P. Garden is not a freeway. And the Caltrans team heard and understood. But are they able to bend the rules? We shall see if they come back with directives to remove the items anyway... as at least one person said, if they cannot be more flexible they might get quite a bit of unwanted negative press...

We presented the petition (281 names) which were received in the spirit intended, I think. A random passer-by and his kid stopped to comment on how much he loves the garden, and what great things it brings to the 'hood (thanks, whoever you are!) We also discussed the idea of the city taking on this project as an intermediary, which would relieve Caltrans of the liability issues to a degree (or at least make them feel better about it all). However, months of permitting would ensue. What other choice do we have? Well, not much. In the meantime I'm just going to keep on keeping on.

Another point that came up was the wish of many locals that this part of the offramp could be closed off: it isn't necessary, it puts cars onto P. Ave at too high a rate of speed, and anyway, lots of cars turn down it in error and make a u-turn back to 18th St anyway, creating a danger to those driving down P. Ave.

I'm glad the meeting's done, but still dread the inevitable email with rules to follow that is sure to come. Pukey feeling in gut not gone yet! One thing's for sure: it really was great to have some of my P. Garden pals there to support me and the garden. Thanks guys :)

P.S. My mum just sent me the above image - perfect, I think! A "Don’t Panic" message from King George VI at the start of WW2, apparently. Another admonition at the time was "Loose Lips Might Sink Ships", so I am keeping my gub zipped, as they say, as a preventive measure. If my upper lip gets any stiffer it will get a stitch...

P.P.S. Garden supporter Denise saw the blog and send the image at left as a rebuttal. What can I say? BOTH sentiments will be put to use! Huzzah!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Front bed: sorted

Plant macros - I don't care who thinks they're played out when they look like this gorgeous Agave parryi, left!

Today was a little hectic due to one thing and another, but in between the insanity (which caused me to miss an important brunch I had been looking forward to) I managed to get the front bed sorted out. We planted:

- 6 Gazania "Daybreak Mix"
- 6 Gazania "Fiesta Red"
- 6 Gazania "Daybreak Red Stripe"
- 6 Achillea millefolium "Cerise Queen"
- 6 Salvia "Blue Victoria"

All perennials - with a bit of luck I won't have to redo this bed again for a while and it will look good in September for the Garden Tour. Yeah! Matt moved the Evening Primroses to make room. They sulked a bit bit I think they'll make it.

Expert plant hunter Channing also dropped off some more plants today! 2 Agave americana, an Aeonium, a ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) and 4 tall spiky cacti. Thanks Channing! They're going to be wonderful for the succulent slope which is slowly beginning to take shape... *rubs hands in glee*

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An embarassment of succulents

I am exhausted. At 8am today I went to Petaluma with John and his friend Channing and his son Christopher to get some plants from a nice couple who posted a Craigslist ad. When I say "some plants" what I really mean is TWO PICKUPS FULL of agaves and cacti!

Thank goodness Channing and John got some for themselves but they gave the vast majority to me for P. Garden and I can't thank them enough. It was hot, sweaty work and more than a few fingers got cactus spines in them! (Note to self: two pairs of gloves and a towel folded into four layers are barely enough when picking up a cactus)

We came home at about 3pm and unloaded the goods - one simply huge (we are talking probably 60#) Agave parryi went straight in the ground by the arch. Mounds of others went into heaps elsewhere, along with two wheelbarrows full of three different columnar cactus cuttings (one kind is Echinopsis spachiana (Golden Torch Cereus)), a fat lump of barrel cactus and two wheelbarrows full of another unidentified Agave.

You know when you are speaking in wheelbarrowfuls you have a lot of plants on your hands...

As usual I am behind on planting stuff, but this was too good to pass up. I will spend the next week digging holes for these lovelies, and feeling very grateful to John, Channing and Christopher for working so hard to bring them to P. Garden.

All photos by Christopher - thanks!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Plant profile: Lavandula

Lavandula are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region south to tropical Africa and to southeast India. The most common "true" species in cultivation is the Common Lavender Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender). Lavandula x intermedia or "Lavendin" (French lavender) is the most cultivated species for commercial use, since its flowers are bigger and the plants are easier to harvest, but Lavendin oil is regarded to be of a lower quality. Lavandula stoechas (Spanish lavender, shown above) is another type.

The ancient Greeks called the lavender herb nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda. It was also commonly called nard. During Roman times, flowers were sold for 100 denarii per pound, which was about the same as a month's wages for a farm labourer, or fifty haircuts from the local barber, or in current money five trips to Whole Foods. Expensive!

Lavender was commonly used in Roman baths to scent the water; its late Latin name was lavandārius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb lavāre (to wash). When the Roman Empire conquered (parts of) Britain, the Romans introduced lavender. While we Brits were more than a little perturbed by the invasion at the time, we have, since 55BC, come to appreciate lavender. Not sure if the trade off was worth it but oh well. Forgive and forget. I personally enjoy spending time in Italy now - in fact I am thinking of introducing something British in return. Deep fried Mars bars, perhaps?

Latin name: Lavandula spp. ("la-VAN-doo-lah")
Common name: Lavender
Originally from: Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Blooms: Well they're... uh, lavender colored! Some are more blue, some more purple, and they also come in white! The bees and butterflies love them, and of course they smell splendid. Summer through to winter, the flowers keep coming.
Light: Full, hot, baking sun, please.
Water: Drought tolerant! Hates soggy roots.
Where to find in P. Garden: Three big fat Spanish lavenders live in the middle back bed, and we also have a lavender hedge of various varieties growing at the very top edge of the garden (about 10 more plants needed.)

Essential oil of lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It was used in hospitals during WWI to disinfect floors and walls. These extracts are also popularly used as fragrances for bath products.

An infusion of lavender is claimed to soothe and heal insect bites. Bunches of lavender are also said to repel insects. If applied to the temples, lavender oil is said to soothe headaches. Lavender is frequently used as an aid to sleep and relaxation. And to cap it all off, you can ever eat it - goat's cheese is flavored with lavender, and lavender syrup can be used in baking.

What a versatile plant. I really hope our lavender hedge takes off: it will be stunning.

UPDATE June 2016:
Our lavender hedge took off and surrounded the scorching hot top of the garden for many years, with no watering! But lavenders have a shelf life and get sprawly and tired after a while. We recently ripped them out in favor of plants that can tolerate being stood on occasionally.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick list

Twig twisting
Mulch moving
Agapanthus arranging
Weed whacking
Daisy deadheading
Snail slinging
Gaillardia gazing (left)

All in an (alliterative) evening's work at P. Garden!

Late night watering.

Yesterday evening I came home and set to work trying to catch up with all the plants kindly donated recently.

I finished the 6 holes at the top of the garden and planted Rick's gorgeous big lavenders there.

I made two big holes in the front bed for Leah's clumps of Agapanthus.

Next Leah's Cannas went in the Canna bed.

Finally Matt came home and we watered until 9.30pm. Still have some plants to put in but they are types that can wait a little longer.

In the midst of all this I had lots of visitors: John, Gary, Jim, Carrie, David, Brad and finally Emily who brought a MASSIVE bunch of her own flowers because she felt sorry for the hassle the garden's having (see pic above). I must say, if this is what I get for having hassle, it's worth it! :D

This morning Michelle and her husband Carl came by with a big Opuntia and a clump of Agapanthus and we had a nice little walk around the garden before I rushed off to work. The Opuntia needs a good spot - I'll have to rearrange a bit to make a place to show it off!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend review

I'm posting this after the weekend so the petition post stays at the top.

Saturday morning:
Matt and I went out to make a dent in the mulch pile. We moved a lot of it to the side beds and red bed. We also removed the past-their-prime corn marigolds from the front bed, as well as a lot of strangulating Nasturtiums. The bed is now ready for more annuals that will see us through to the end of the year, when perennials will go in their place and end this madness ;)

Also had some great help from Evelyn who weeded with us: thank you! Alison and Peekaboo came by, as did Anita and Lola (is that her name?) - two dogs vying for Happiest Canine Of The Year! Anita brought a good groundcover donation too.* Gina and Tank came for a chat too, as well as Gary, Jim (with George and Kelly), Barbara and Sage, Dan, and oh, a hummingbird was seen drinking from Annelle's feeder - at last!

Saturday night:
Came home to find that Jim had planted all the bamboo he got us! Gasp! We mulched and watered it and felt very lucky indeed to have been saved all that work.

Sunday morning:
Got up to dig 6 holes for some lavender plants that Rick bought us. Oh it's hard work digging up at the top... the Texas toothpick was invaluable as usual. We had to stop halfway due to fatigue, and filled the holes with water, then mulch, to try and soften the dirt for more digging later.

Sunday night:
Rick came by with 6 big, beautiful lavenders - English and French - for the lavender hedge. I have brought them in the house until the holes are finished. Matt, Rcik and I went down and watered the sunflowers with about 20 gallons of water. Rick has been watering them this whole time, and they are all about to bloom. Hard work - but a great payoff. I think next year we will put in some succulents and cactus, as well as bougainvillea on the fence, as the watering is heavy work.

Leah had also been by with some big, fat clumps of Agapanthus. Perfect for the front bed. She has been scouting the best deals in the area for annuals to fill that bed through the end of the year too.

Photo above shows one of the three bulbs Dino gave us suddenly flowering. What on earth is it? Sadly the monstrous Cardoon is covering it, but perhaps it prefers some shade... UPDATE: it's a Haemanthus multiflorus - who knew? (Answer: my dad!)

* Once again ol' Paw comes through - he IDed the groundcover as a variegated Glechoma hederacea, also known as Creeping Charlie, Gill-over-Ground, Ground Ivy, Hedgemaids, Alehoof, Catsfoot and Run-Away-Robin. This is alleged to be a dreadful weed in damper climates but might make a good groundcover here!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sign the petition! Save the arch (bench, paths, storage...)

Today I got a call from Caltrans. They generally like the garden proposal I sent them, but said they'd need me to remove the metal entrance arch, wooden trellis, brick paths, storage cabinet etc from the garden. Oh, and don't install that bench!

Apparently these aren't allowed under Adopt-a-Highway rules.

Needless to say, I am not happy with this rigid interpretation of rules designed for freeways and roadsides! And I doubt that the people who donated money, time, skill and materials to each of those garden features will be happy either.

So I've created an online petition: please sign it so I can present the results to Caltrans and request that they relax their rules to allow our garden to have the features that contribute so greatly to making it a pleasant place to be! I cannot stand the idea of ripping out these carefully crafted parts of the garden...

I am meeting with Caltrans around July 28th, so please sign now.

UPDATE: I have talked to The Potrero View newspaper, and emailed the Potrero Boosters and the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association to ask for their support. Any other suggestions? Chain myself to the arch?

I have to say I'm very touched by the support everyone's shown so far. Thank you.

UPDATE 2: I just literally shed a tear due to being so amazed by this effort to help: click here! Gosh, Steve, how nice are you? Very nice indeed.

I have a call in to Supervisor Sophie Maxwell (Dist. 10) too - perhaps she can pull some strings? Yank some chains? I put the petition site link on my Facebook page too. And coerced all my friends to sign it.

P.S. Apparently Safari doesn't work well with the petition site. Try Firefox etc!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In which I get dumped on (almost)

Today I got another load of "compost" from the local recycling company. They turn what goes in your green wheelie bins (compostables) into this finely shredded, composted material which makes a great composty mulch, and really improves the P. Garden dirt.

We got a load back in December - 2/3 of a truckload - and thought we'd never run out. Well we did run out, quite fast, and a quick email to Sanjay yieded 20 yards (a full load!) delivered to the garden today!

The good news is that unlike last time, it's drier (less eucalyptus smell) and I managed to direct traffic to get them to dump it at the top of the garden, somewhat out of the way. The bad news is it's in the middle of the dog area, but it could be a doggie playground until I get it moved. Happily we have Ron's wheelbarrow and Gary's big shovel to help us move it faster, unlike last time, so I'll make a dent in it at the weekend.

Naturally today it's about 94 degrees out, and I had to run home to supervise the dumping, shovel up spilled mulch, and run back to work at midday. So I am fried. But it was worth it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Change of plan

Today I started watering around 8am. Took a break for breakfast, finally got back in the house at 1.45pm - not all watering, but also weeding, trimming, deadheading and pondering a change to the front bed.

The California poppies got rotten due to sprinkler malfunction, the Corn Marigolds are annuals, and now past their prime, and the Nasturtiums are vicious and strangling everything. So I ripped out a lot of the above today at one end, and moved two Gaillardias over from the Canna bed. (Above)

When the rest of the Corn Marigolds come out it will look very bare! Since the garden tour is in just 8 weeks (!) I need to spice the area up with plants that:

Look good year round
Have bright-colored flowers
Don't need lots of water
Look good with Gaillarias, Agapanthus, silvery Artemisia and yellow Daylillies.

I'm at a loss. Maybe the sun went to my head. I predict a trip to Home Despot is in my future, where I will stand gormlessly in front of aisles of plants trying to pick a winner. And inevitably get the wrong thing. Oh well! It's all trial and error.

Rick dropped by and he is the reason the sunflowers are alive at all, it turns out! He's been watering them this whole time. Thanks! We're getting the payoff now with our brand new flower :)

I also had a nice chat with Gina and Tank, and John came by to donate a Begonia. Oh, and the hummingbird was back, feeding on sage and aloe flowers! I tried to take a pic but... my phone's camera mojo is weak.

Above: Matilija poppy flowering for the first time!

UPDATE: Later in the afternoon, just as I was leaving for Oakland, Jim and friend rolled up with bamboo! Jim had spend ages digging it out of his friend's garden and wow - there's a lot! We will plant it along the back fence. It's the clumping kind - promise! Thanks Jim (and friend) :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jade forest

Above left: Our first sunflower!
Above right: Gold-toothed Aloe hedge in bloom

A few weeks ago Alison donated some jade plants to P Garden, and they had been languishing at the bottom of the back slop, waiting to be planted. Then this week, Tim brought over 6-7 HUGE jades. OK, no more lagging... I scheduled a volunteer day (in other words, begged people to come help me dig holes.)

Luckily for me, the people who came were Jes (she has a known tolerance for hard work, and her own mini pickaxe - this tells you something right off the bat), her boyfriend Dave (despite a hangover, he was keen to get to work, and excited to tell us about his previous life as a vegetable farmer!), Melissa (have you ever seen a lawyer wield a Texas toothpick? I have, and now I'm scared) and of course Matt.

We dug and weeded frenetically for 2 hours and it was all done! I'm shocked and amazed - thank you guys SO MUCH for helping: I know it's not easy work but it was 1000% faster and easier with your help :) Below are two views of the results: Jades and agaves in place, paths, yuccas and opuntias to come.

After that we dropped in on Gary, Annelle and Ericka and looked at Gary's project on the bench. Wow - stunning restoration job. Wait til you see it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Once or twice people have asked if we get any deer damage in the garden. I always say that any deer that braves freeway traffic to get to the garden will be welcome to any nourishment it can get!

We do get some wildlife at P. Garden, and today I saw a hummingbird feeding on the Mexican sage! (Yes, Annelle!) Always a sign of joy for me. What else?

Mourning Doves
Hummingbird of some sort

Worms (various types, and lots of them)
Ladybugs (lots, with various spot patterns)
Butterflies (Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Monarch? At least three kinds)
Probably millions of other things I don't know about

California Slender Salamander

Probably the occasional cat, at night.

Have you seen any other species in the garden?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twig weaving

Last night I bordered the end and back of the "red bed" with redwood branches (ha!) and moved the rest of the branches out of the way. Different species of tree give different results - my favorite so far were the ornamental pear branches - long, thin, straight, flexible, and cut before their leaves popped out, so they give a nice smooth look.

Sycamores have big leaves and branches that go all at right angles - a bit annoying. In fact anything with leaves gives a lesser result, as the leaves dry and fall off later so the twine holding the bundles loosens. I went back and added more branches to some areas last night.

In the two hours I was there three people came to look at the garden last night, say hello, enjoy the evening. I like that.

Also Tim had been by with his jade plant donation. Wow - they're huge! This weekend is jade planting weekend - I am going to see if I can get some help with that as it looks like a big job. Anyone?

Below left: Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon) growing huge! Below right: Cotyledon? Senecio? Unidentified plant that I adore.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Funky and wacky

Our freaky blue Eryngium planum "Sapphire Blue" (right) and Achillea millefolium "Walter Funke" (yarrow - left) are currently doing their thing and looking spectacular! More! We need more of these things!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Roll up! Roll up! Get yer tee shirts here!

At last, the first P. Garden tee is ready for your perusal! "Runs with pruners" tells the world that you're mad, bad, and dangerous to know - in the garden!

It's what all the hip kids are wearing these days. Uh-huh.

$5 of every purchase goes towards the garden. Hurrah!

If there are other products you'd like to see this design on, just say the word and I will make it for you. Any other comments and suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


(Left: the garden viewed from 18th St - top is 2006 (courtesy of my dad), bottom 2009. Note the big Monterey pines are gone now, and the ornamental cherries are new.)

Today I got a nice surprise. Neighbors Ron and Alison (separately) told me that someone in the 'hood posted some kind words about the garden on the Potrero Hill neighbors Yahoo group!

Alison forwarded the message, and I'm going to post it here because, darnit, I'm feeling proud:

Want a treat? next time you're at Farley's, walk down to the intersection of 18th and Pennsylvania street and look at this magical work in progress.

A neighbor on the block has been lovingly turning that nasty chunk of public property into an exquisite garden of succulents and hardy blooming visual delights. Paths to walk through it. Dogs welcome!!! Gorgeous entrance gate. Compost in the back. Even some roses!

I know nothing about this obviously enormous project but a nice couple was walking their dogs there while i was exploring and said that one person, who has a blog about it, organized the donation of plants, the creation of the gate, and has weekend after weekend been planting and building and ... wow.

I can't tell you how cool it was to walk through this little gift.

How nice is that? I hope the person who wrote it doesn't mind me putting their words here - I'm going to join the group and see if anyone on it wants to join in the gardening fun!

In other news, today I flattened a 6' wide area for the bench to go on (left). It's under the furthest back cherry tree, by the trellis/arch in a shady spot. I have enough bricks piled there to make a pad I think. Very rocky, so the digging bar was employed. I don't have a level which I need to get, to make sure it's flat. Then I'll lay down black plastic, sand, and then the bricks. Gary says he will concrete in the bench - not sure how that will work yet. I also need to figure out how to prevent the bricks from sliding down slope - I expect some landscape timbers will be employed.

I have planted paperwhites, sage, buddleja, star jasmine and all sorts of other sweet-smelling stuff in the area for a nice scent on the breeze. Should be pretty cool, and I have lots of room there for more plants as inspiration strikes.

Evening update: I got an email from neighbor Tim who heard about the garden from the Potrero Hill email list and, I think, another list (I got confused by all the email lists and accolades flying about when he was telling us!) We went round to visit him and not only was he full of good ideas for getting garden donations, but he also has some plants for the garden. Yeah!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Breezy on the hill

We had a short spell of gardening today. Weeded. Planted some Dietes, some Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feather grass), some purple pea-flowered bush and something silvery (left by Leah? What could they be!) Enjoyed the breeze. Sprayed a Sedum for aphids. Deadheaded various flowers. Noticed that the red flax (Linum grandiflorum) is flowering. Enjoyed the smell of the flowers. Ahhh.

Then tried to turn on the sprinklers. Discovered Caltrans has disabled them. *$#@*!&%?!

Above are some pictures of the garden. Top is "before" (courtesy Google maps), then comes Spring '09 and Summer '09 courtesy of Max from across the street. Nice view!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bench building, part 1

Today I went with Gary to Beronio Lumber to buy wood with the money we've had donated for the garden bench.

This project has been a long time coming. I scoured the Bay area for free lumber or cheap, put begging ads on, and couldn't find any that would work, so finally decided to buy it. Luckily Max, Sage and Barbara all made nice donations, so Gary was able to find ipe wood which is referred to as the poor man's teak. Definitely P. Garden appropriate.

We spent three days looking at each 18' long section of ipe wood under an electron microscope to detect critical imperfections and weaknesses invisible to the human eye, before finally selecting three pieces that barely passed Gary's 27 point inspection. OK, that's not true, but you get the idea... I would have made the bench out of a discarded pine pallet left outside Center Hardware, but I started warming up to Gary's eye for detail and in the end was very glad we didn't just grab the first three boards on the stack.

Ipe wood is a heavy (really heavy...) and oily hardwood that's extremely dense, supposedly sustainably harvested in Brazil, and should hold up to the elements well. And Bill over at Beronio gave us a great deal! Thanks Bill. We also got end sealant from Beronio, and some varnish-stain-like stuff too from neighborhood paint store Fregosi & Co.. (They gave us the neighbor discount!)

Gary and I ripped the lumber down to the right width, and routed and sanded the edges. When I say "Gary and I" I mean Gary told me what to do so I wouldn't die tragically mangled in his table saw, leaving a bloody mess, and I followed orders. I did manage to stain the sanded parts though (above left - I made Gary pretend to paint for the photo), then I left Gary who was saying he might get crazy and paint the bench ends (above right) and start putting the bench together... I wonder what tomorrow will bring!

One thing's for sure: we have a lot of brick laying to do to make the bench area ready, and this project would not have been possible without Gary, Max, Sage & Barbara and Bill. (OK, that's two things.) Thanks guys!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Plant profile: Canna

Cannas were a huge hit in late-Victorian days, and cottage-garden artist Gertrude Jekyll praised them for "the handsomest foliage in the border." Who am I to argue with Ms. Jekyll? A genus of approximately twenty species of tropical-looking plants related to gingers and bananas, the name Canna originates from the Celtic word for a cane or reed.

Atkins dieters beware: it is one of the world's richest starch sources, and is farmed for eating. All of the plant has commercial value: rhizomes for starch (consumption by humans and livestock), stems and foliage for animal fodder, young shoots as a vegetable and young seeds as an addition to tortillas.

Latin name: Canna spp. ("KAN-ah")
Common name: Canna, Canna lily.
Originally from: Tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, from the southern United States (southern South Carolina west to southern Texas) and south to northern Argentina
Blooms: Yellow, orange, red, pink or white and all shades in between! Flowers appear at the tips of thick spikes.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Moderate water.
Where to find in P. Garden: "Canna-opolis" as we called it was in the right edge bed, behind the Wrong Way sign. In the end we removed them because they contracted Canna virus.

We got our Cannas from various people, who either sold us the rhizomes (thick roots they grow from), allowed us to dig rhizomes from their gardens, gave us seeds to start or gave us whole plants. We were sometimes told what colors to expect, but now that they've started flowering some of them have surprised us!

We have burgundy-leaved orange ones (top right), burgundy-leaved reds (probably "Black Knight", top left, foreground) striped-leaved ones whose flowers haven't opened, and normal-leaved reds with the smaller flowers (top left, background). And they're all mixed up! When the plants die down in the fall we'll relocate them into better groupings, and I hope to get some yellow and pink Cannas too, to add to the mix.

Cannas are classified in various "groups" accoridng to what they look like. Canna x generalis "Black Knight" is in the Italian Group. We have no idea what the other Cannas are!

UPDATE: we removed all our Cannas except for a clump of red ones in the brights and left beds. They contracted Canna virus which is spread by leafcutter bugs and by forgetting to clean pruners when deadheading. Very sad but at the same time they were quite thirsty, those plants!
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