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Canna ‘Cleopatra’

from Hart Canna, on their stall in the Plant Heritage marquee
One of several gorgeous cannas that caught my eye (also into my notebook went the water cannas with their slender spear-like leaves and vibrant flowers: ‘Endeavour’ was a particularly lovely soft red).

Keith and Christine Hayward have been working for years to eradicate the rampant canna virus, imported with stock from the Netherlands and now so widespread that almost every canna you buy ends up sickly, striped and puckered with disease (I once bought one from a Chelsea garden sell-off, in the days when they did such things, which looked lovely when purchased – only to succumb a few weeks later).

The Haywards however have taken the only responsible approach: take what little unaffected stock remains, and propagate that, developing a range of virus-free canna: probably the only ones in the country you can be pretty much absolutely sure won’t develop the disease.

I’ve followed their progress in this over several years, since they nearly went out of business because of the virus but pulled themselves back from the brink. So I was really pleased to see their stand in the Plant Heritage marquee, full of vividly-flowered cannas with stripes and striations only where they were meant to be. Huge congratulations to both Keith and Christine for their achievement: and it’s good to see cannas looking healthy again.

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