The Sunday porch: Dallas, North Carolina

Mason House, near Dallas, North Carolina, 1938, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

A narrow porch for a narrow house. I think those are cannas at the bases of the columns.

This picture was published in The Early Architecture of North Carolina by Johnston and Thomas Tileston Waterman in 1941, but I can’t find out anything else about the building.

The Sunday porch: lattice and brick

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“William Windom house, 1723 de Sales Place, Washington, D.C., Terrace,” ca. 1925, four hand-colored glass lantern slides by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Johnston used these slides in her “Gardens for City and Suburb” lectures. (You can scroll through larger version by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ below.)

De Sales Place (now Row) is an alleyway between L and M Streets, N.W. (It connects 18th and 19th Streets.) The house is gone; an office building occupies the site.

The William Windom who gave his name to the home was twice Secretary of the Treasury, as well as a Congressman and Senator from Minneasota. He died in 1891. His son, also a William, may have been living in the house at the time of these photos.  He died in 1926.

[We] usually learn that modesty, charm, reliability, freshness, calmness, are as satisfying in a garden as anywhere else.

— Henry Mitchell, from The Essential Earthman

Continue reading “The Sunday porch: lattice and brick”

Bloom Day in January

I was surprised this week by this pretty cream and pink canna, blooming among some shrubs near the garage. It’s a short variety, and I need to move it to a place where it will get a little more attention.

This is another small canna currently blooming near the patio.

They are all I’ve found in our flower beds, which is a little strange since cannas are such a common plant here.

This is my favorite local variety. It’s medium tall and the blooms are clear orange.

These are my neighbors’ cannas, planted outside their garden walls.

Cannas are so common in Africa that you might think of them as native plants, but all cannas are native to the Americas.  In the U.S., they range from southern South Carolina, west to southern Texas.

Cannas like full sun and consistently moist soil. They have a high tolerance for contaminants and can be used to extract pollutants from wetlands.

The blooms and foliage of cannas have such a strong presence that I think they need to be placed in gardens that are rather dramatic in return and maybe somewhat tropical.

Beautiful use of burgundy-leaved cannas in front of the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, Summer 2011.

Here is a nice old-fashioned garden bed with canna from the South African blog Sequoia Gardens.

Via Sequoia Gardens.

Of course, they’re great in showy pots.

Cannas and coleus at The Morton Arboretum, via This Garden Cooks.

I found an interesting online newsletter, Old House Gardens, which offers a lot of history and advice on the use of cannas.  It reports that Georgia gardener Ryan Gainey uses Canna indica (commonly called Indian Shot) in a big clump with chartreuse ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas and yellow ‘Hyperion’ daylilies.

Russell Page included them in his imaginary personal garden in groups of pots, along with “yuccas, hedychium, Francoa ramose, tigridias, yellow and white lantanas clipped into balls, and the dwarf pomegranate.”

Henry Mitchell lamented in The Essential Earthman that cannas had been swept out of favor, along with geraniums, elephant’s ear, and crotons, “because people remembered well how ridiculous they had looked in the wormy little dribbles of Victorian gardens.”

He recommended the large, red-flowered, green-leaved variety, ‘The President’, with “clumps of ligularias and rhubarbs and so on.”

For cannas with reddish-purple or bronze leaves, Mitchell recommended pairing them with plants of gray and bronze foliage, as well as straw-yellow, buffy, or sharp lemon flowers like daylilies — or with figs, pomegranates, or “chest-high mounds of gray wormwood and black-green yews.”  It is perfectly OK to cut off the canna flowers if they are “too flashy” for you.

Thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.