February 9, 2010

Hot Tropics - Canna Do It?

Colocasia in bloomPineapple sage in bloom
On a cold and dreary winter day, sitting by the fireplace sipping coffee, I was inspired to a new garden design. Hot red and yellow flames gave way to images of using tropical colors in the redesign of the butterfly garden.

First of all, the butterflies use ALL of my gardens, but I've been rearranging the butterfly garden to remove pastels and pinks and surrender to hot colors.

Well-behaved clumping bamboo, tall bronze fennel and a mass of fire-engine red pineapple sage will provide the backdrop for this makeover.

The soil at the bottom is rich and deep, so I can keep a few tropicals happy with enough full sun for blooms, but not so much as to scorch the plants.

I have a surprising number of plants that I can divide or move to use in this space - ginger, calla, colocasia, and swamp sunflower. But, I want a mass planting of canna. Garish, gaudy canna!

Looking through my vacation photos of the US Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, I found the color scheme inspiration! I love the mass planting of red canna surrounded by a sea of chartreuse and orange with bits of burgundy and yellow.

The brightly painted garden tuteur reminds me of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Hmm... there is a Frenchman who sometimes sells garden-scale replicas of that monument (painted orange) in a nearby shop. Would that be too tacky? It would serve as an air-control tower for the incoming hummingbirds that circle to find a landing spot at feeders or flowers.

I'm not a canna collector, so when I saw a cheap box of 16 in the most outlandish mix of reds and yellows, I thought - why not? My project is ready to launch when spring arrives.

I think I can do hot tropics!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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