The most talented and accomplished canna grower in recent times has undoubtedly been Ian Cooke. I remember being flabbergasted when I saw his canna displays in the old walled garden at Nottingham University. At that time he held the National Collection of Cannas and he had them displayed in several beds with the tall varieties at the back gradually descending to smaller flowers in the front. I noticed that each of the beds had an irrigation system, which released water to the plants on a continuous basis. This taught me for the first time that cannas need plenty of water.
Fortunately this year, water has been in good supply. This is the first summer I’ve not had to stand around looking gormless with the hosepipe. All this water has done our cannas a power of good. I can honestly say that they are as strong and as splendid as those which I saw in Ian Cooke’s garden. It’s sad to recall that his garden is no more. His cannas succumbed to the canna virus, wiping out the whole lot. Ian had to give up his National Collection. But we do have the benefit of his accumulative wisdom in his manual, The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Cannas.