The University grounds team has taken steps to boost and futureproof our collection of cannas — a vibrant flowering plant that is a regular feature of UoN’s summer planting schemes.
From 1994-2004, the University of Nottingham held a National Collection of Canna, which was located in the Highfields walled garden. However, the collection was largely destroyed after suffering from canna virus. Following this, canna propagation continued in the grounds greenhouse with the surviving canna cultivars, and cannas have remained a regular feature of UoN’s summer planting schemes.
More recently the University has been working to increase its canna collection and has also helped increase a National Collection and donated cannas to a local National Trust garden of historic significance.
This progress started early in 2018 when members of the University’s grounds team met staff from Hart Canna — the holder of the Plant Heritage National Collection of cannas — at the Malvern Spring Festival Garden Show.
Discussions ensued and it was found that both the University of Nottingham grounds greenhouse and Hart’s nursery had canna cultivars that the other was missing. With this knowledge in mind, a swap of canna rhizomes was arranged with the aim of increasing both collections.
UoN gardener Matthew Gyles, who organised the swap, explains that as a result, “We now have three new canna cultivars for the University grounds. One of the new cannas, ‘Russian Red’ can grow up to three metres tall and will be a striking new addition to the University’s grounds.”
In addition a link has been forged between the University of Nottingham grounds and the National Trust at Belton House near Grantham. The Italian garden at Belton is currently being gradually returned to its prime, with a Victorian layout and appearance. Following dialogue between the University and Belton House’s Head Gardener, Jon Lawrance, the University of Nottingham grounds greenhouse has donated heritage canna cultivars (hybridised between 1890s and early 1900s) to Belton to help in the restoration of its internationally historic garden.
The heritage cannas are a very welcome and period correct addition to the Italian garden. Meanwhile, the University’s grounds greenhouse has increased its own collection further by receiving cuttings from four cultivars of abutilon growing in the Belton House orangery.
In addition to helping a historic garden, donating cannas will also help preserve cultivars. As a result of donating the University of Nottingham has secured a source of canna rhizomes should we be unlucky enough to see a widespread return of canna virus or another collection threatening occurrence.
For more information about the University’s grounds and gardens, visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/sustainability/grounds/groundsgardens.aspx.
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