I have a love-hate relationship with canna lilies. Quite a few times I have seen them in other people's gardens, thought they looked great, planted them en masse only to be a bit underwhelmed with the results.
However, there is one variety I have that will always have a space for in the garden. I don't know what it is called, but do know it is a very old-fashioned variety. You sometimes see it planted among old farmhouses in far Western Sydney. It has these delicate, spider-like orange blooms:
After flowering is finished, you are left with these unusual spiky purple seed pods:
This canna is more free-flowering than other types. The flowers are longer lasting than other types. It can grow very tall, almost 3 metres in height.
For comparison, I have this red one below. It looks pretty but the flowers usually only last a day before falling off, or die on the stem. It can look rather messy.
Red Hot Cat's Tail (Acalypha reptans) plant is so cute and so easy to grow.
It is a nice ground cover. Mine is not very dense but I think that is because it is in a partially-shaded spot. I like to pull up the runners and replant them somewhere else. I grew mine from cuttings. It usually flowers in the warmer months. I think it would look really good planted en masse.
The latin name translates to "Obese Adenium" in English. It is a reference to the swollen base of the stem which does resemble a fat belly. As my one was grown from a cutting and not seed, it won't develop the fat belly.
Here is one of my heliconia blooms. It flowers in late winter for me and they last for months - in fact they are still on the plant now.
It is not a fussy or difficult heliconia to grow. It forms a tight clump but the leaves spread out quite a bit.
This weekend I thought I would make a row of them so I got a couple more (you can see the one in the ground behind it)
The soil is pure sand. The pavers were layed on a raised sand bed, so that is what these plants grow in.
Initially I thought the sand would be a benefit due to it's good drainage and thus helping to keep cold-sensitive tropicals dry in winter. It didn't matter in the case of this heliconia, as it seems to be a very thirsty plant and likes a bit of shade.
Eventually the two newbies will fill up and form a hedge with the older one. I've put in few water-retaining pellets so they don't always look so dry, too. However, seeing as though these plants are not fussed on temperature or sun, I may end up moving them eventually when I try out another variety that will only grow in these hotter conditions. Such spots (heat traps in a marginal climate garden) are so precious that I call them 'valuable real estate' and can't let them be wasted on plants that would grow just as well elsewhere! My plants get moved so moved it's like a game of 'musical plants!' Not surprising really, when you consider that most of my plants are not grown in this climate so there is a lot of experimentation to be done to get everything just right.
I've talked about this plant before in my blog. It was small and spindly; I thus assumed that it was one of those "survives but never thrives" tropicals that abound in Sydney (think Ixora, Plumeria obtusa ect - tropicals that will stay alive, push out a few leaves each year before the next winter hits). Then I spotted a huge vine covered in flowers in the parking lot of a local shopping centre. In fact, it is so robust that I couldn't even photograph it all - all I managed was a small side-view shot:
A close up of the flower - the perfume is similar to that of the frangipani
Luckily, there were a few branches overhanging the fence - perfect cutting material!