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How much fun is it to say Banana Canna. Right up there with Sambucus. This post has nothing to do with Sambucus–aside from the delight in saying its name. Sambucus was my first deliberate Latin plant name utterance. Megan taught me when she urged me to buy a lacy Fern Leaf Elderberry. That plant got big and gorgeous. No worries. The new peeps poisoned it and it is long gone. I will not be bitter, I swear.

Canna musafolia aka Banana Canna is not only fun to say, it’s leaves are big, dramatic, and it sways romantically in the breeze. You’ll think you’re on vacation.

Banana canna in the hellstrip of our previous garden.


My first Banana Canna was a gift from Megan. She brought over a clump of tubers, and I wondered what the heck. So I started chipping out space in the hellstrip and planted them where they could get full sun. Other plants followed. Miracles ensued. Funny, isn’t it, when you first start gardening–beyond big box stores. Awe and caution in every step. I’m more bold now, but still imagine I don’t know what I’m doing. Compost and water. That’s my whole plan. (Except for the plants that don’t want that. But I’m not entirely consistent.)

Waiting for Canna musafolia to make its appearance in our current garden.


The hellstrips at previous house were about 10′ wide. AND we lived on the corner–three stretches of opportunity gone unrealized for years. It took forever to get all the grass out, but it became our mission. And it was necessary, I’d created shade everywhere else. Alas, the new peeps replanted the hellstrips with grass. Note to self: don’t be bitter.

When we first moved into our house on Alameda, it was so hot on the west side. The lawn sloped down to the sidewalk, and the grass was a burned out cinder. So we planted trees. Lots of trees. Amazing how many you can fit on a 50’X100′ city lot.

The shady side yard made for great contemplation and neighbor viewing. Those were the days. Our good neighbors were invited to come running whenever they heard a cork pop. So many terrific evenings on that little tumbled bluestone patio–our version of a front porch.

In our other house, this was a hot burned out cinder when we moved in.


Just a tiny aside, Bill and I built the bluestone patio ourselves. It turned out great, though I always wished the one birch had been a smidge more to the left. The other thing we learned, handling HEAVY stones togethers is not a marriage enhancing experience. It turned out great, but in the process, we did all but exchange gunshots. When it came time for a patio at our new house, we hired experts.

Patio when under construction at current digs. Look at those straight pavers. Done by professionals.


Back to the marvelous Banana Canna on the hellstrip. It was glorious, and then one year it up and died. Which sometimes happens. Harrumph. Then we moved. So of course, I bought more to plant here. But I couldn’t find the straight up green, so I bought Canna musafolia ‘Red’. I pined for my green cannas, but the red, turned out, wasn’t too bad either.

Canna musafolia ‘Red’ making a statement in back fence garden.


It’s a little smaller, but still a stunner. I love contrasting size and texture. I learned that from Megan too. She says if you use all small texture it always look messy. Seems right, no?

Red Banana Canna and Amsonia hubrichtii. Contrast in size and texture. Before canna got way tall.


You could lost in those mesmerizing leaves.

Red Banana Canna is pretty good.


Now I’m looking in the back garden where it used to be–and realizing it’s not there anymore. When did that happen? I don’t remember. It’s not as if I buy plants willy nilly and forget what’s planted where.

Rhodocoma capensis is not bad in the line up either. See the Canna looking smart alongside?


You see how I could get smitten with the red Banana Canna. And then I come across another picture reminding me how much I love straight up green.

Canna musafolia aka Banana Canna


I solved the which-color-do-I-love-most problem like any self-respecting gardener would: plant both. Red out back. Green up front. Voila. My recommendation, get at least one of each. Play with size and texture. Then sit back and swoon.

Chiquita in the back garden.


Okay, gotta run. The garden is calling. And Chiquita is outside barking–no doubt at a passing gnat. Animals!