Dale McDonell

Canna ‘Florence Vaughan’ rediscovered!

CannaFlorence Vaughan’ growing in the gardens of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, Australia.

The original Canna ‘Florence Vaughan’ has been traced to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens in Australia.

Congratulations are due to Mrs Dale McDonnell in Australia, for tracking down this elusive cultivar, dating back to 1892. CannaFlorence Vaughan’ was traced hiding in the confines of the Melbourne Botanical gardens where it had escaped the vagaries of fashion and nurserymen confusing identities. By bringing this original cultivar to the notice of the international Canna community she has allowed us to put one of the many Canna inconsistencies to rest, at last. 

CannaFlorence Vaughan’ was originally raised by Monsieur Crozy of Lyons, France and imported into the USA by Vaughan’s Seed Store and named for Mrs Vaughan. It was described in the early US gardening journal Garden and Forest thus: 

This is the best yellow spotted Canna introduced up to this time; color, lemon yellow spotted with bright red. The size and form of the flower is by far the best that has been raised to date; it has been claimed for this variety that it was the best yellow in cultivation, but the scarlet markings on the petals detract from the brightness of the yellow. It is a strong, robust grower, with flowers of the largest size with large heads, blooms freely, and for florists’ sale will be very, very satisfactory. Bronze Medal awarded for this at World’s Fair, Chicago, 1893.Garden and Forest
Vaughan’s advert for CannaFlorence Vaughan’The name and the correct descriptions appeared in catalogues, gardening books and encyclopedia up until the 1940’s.

In the 1960’s the name again appeared in catalogues, but it was now the vanished cultivar CannaRoma’ that had mistakenly been given this name in the USA and Europe. CannaRoma’ was described by Messrs Dammann & Co. as having light-yellow flowers adorned with its trademark nasturtium-orange blotches and red marks.

Most canna enthusiasts had recognized for some time that CannaFlorence Vaughan’ was wrong, but where was the real C. ‘Florence Vaughan’? It has taken this discovery in the documented accession archives of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne Australia to complete the solving of the long-running mystery.

In Australia CannaRoma’ was known from the early 1900s but disappeared from catalogues in 1926 when Messrs Brunnings sold out, although it had been correctly described up until then. Unfortunately, CannaRoma’ was subsequently misnamed as Canna ‘Heinrich Seidel’, another of the Italian cannas from the house of Dammann & Co. in the 1890’s, which was yellow with a red throat, and the misuse of that name is local to Australia.

CannaRoma’As can be seen from the pictures, CannaFlorence Vaughan’ is a typical, Crozy Group canna (both image above), with gladiolus-like blooms. Whereas, CannaRoma’ (image left) is a typical Italian Group canna with large, floppy, iris-like blossoms, and the labellum is larger than the staminodes. The two types are so basically different that it is difficult to see how the original mix-up could have occurred. It again seems to be another Nurseryman misnaming from the early 1980’s.