At the front of their property they have several trees and numerous gardens devoted to perennials, roses and annuals. They are afforded the same luxury as my sister Chris with regard to space. Planting gardens in big areas is much easier than planning for smaller gardens. There is a vast choice of plants and usually large gardens look great due to variety, height and the ability to grow trees, shrubs and perennials without limitation.
For years they have grown Cannas and Dahlias. In fall they dig up the tubers and replant in June. The Canna (C. generalis) is big, bold and beautiful. It is a half-hardy plant blooming from midsummer until the onset of frosts and can be used as a centrepiece in the bedding schemes and large containers.
The blooms are up to five inches across and the large leaves are decorative. The rhizomes are started in peat in March and then planted out in early June. The plants are lifted in autumn and the rhizomes are dried before being stored in sand or peat. It can be grown as a pot plant, in March set in compost one inch below the surface and repot every year.
Many named varieties of C. generalis (C. hybrida) are available. They are divided into two groups. The Coloured-leaved varieties are highly decorative. Examples include 'Dazzler' which attains a height of approximately four feet with red flowers and bronze foliage. 'Assault' attains a height of approximately four feet and has red flowers with purple foliage. 'Verdi' attains a height of approximately three feet and has orange blotched yellow and purple flowers with purple foliage. The green leaved varieties include 'Orchid' which attains a height of approximately three feet and has pink flowers. 'President' attains a height of approximately three feet and has red flowers. 'Lucifer' attains a height of appproximately two feet and has red flowers.
These plants require humus rich soil and full sun is essential. Plant in June to a planting depth of two inches and space twelve inches apart. To propagate cut up rhizomes once they have started into growth.
Dahlias are a basic feature of the late summer garden. The giant Border varieties with blooms of ten inches across are the stars of the show. You can also buy bedding and Lilliput Dahlias with small flowers and a compact growth habit. The favourite types of Border Dahlia are the Decorative, Semi-Cactus and Cactus groups. Their usual home is the herbaceous border or in a bed of their own.
The Bedding and Lilliput varieties on the other hand are grown in rockeries, containers and bedded-out areas. All Dahlias provide excellent material for flower arranging. You can start by planting out rooted cuttings or sprouted tubers in May or early June. It is more usual to plant dormant tubers and set them out about a month earlier. Border Dalias will require staking. You can increase the bushiness of the plant by pinching out the tips of the main stems about three weeks after planting. Water thoroughly during dry spells. When the buds have appeared it will be necessary to water every few days if rain does not fall. For larger but fewer flowers it is necesary to remove the sidebuds in the cluster, leaving just the terminal flowerbud. The regular removal of faded blooms will prolong the flowering life of the specimen.
When the first frosts have blackened the foliage cut off the stems about six inches above the ground. Gently fork out the tubers and discard surplus soil and broken roots. Stand the tubers upside down for a week to drain off excess moisture and then place them on a layer of peat in a wooden or cardboard box. Store in a cool but frost-free place until planting time arrives.