Valentine's Day tribute - Joy Larkcom
Hellebores in Pennsylvania and Northamptonshire

Cannas, agastaches, bluebells, bluebonnets – and Star Trek Voyager

Naturehillsheatherqueen There’s been an burst of indignation this week on the Yahoo Group devoted to cannas. Nature Hills Nursery has a new “canna” listed – Canna ‘Heather Queen’; it appears amongst their list of other canna varieties. Trouble is, ‘Heather Queen’ is an agastache.

The problem doubtless arose because there’s an Agastache species called Agastache cana (with one n). At some point someone at the nursery probably mis-typed it and then their software has dumped it in with the cannas and no one has bothered to change it. What's more, 'Heather Queen' is not even a cultivar of A. cana, the latest thinking is that it's a hybrid of A. cana and either A. mexicana or A. pallida.

I know, a typing slip is easily made. But someone at a nursery with such a vast range of plants really should have spotted it. Come on folks, does it really look like a canna? Anyway, it’s sold out – so perhaps some canna enthusiasts are in for surprise in the summer. This is the sort of nonsense that puts people off mail order.

Bluebells And while we’re on the subject of confusions…. I was watching Star Trek Voyager this lunchtime – you know, the way you do when you’re done snow shovelling - and they were doing one of those mind meld things they like so much, one character seeing another’s memories. Swathes of wild European bluebells drifted across the screen, and were promptly referred to as Texas bluebonnets. Doh! That’s Hyacinthoides non-scripta (a hyacinth relation) = Lupinus texensis.Bluebonnets

Actually Star Trek is a constant source of entertaining horticultural surprises. Only the other day we had what were, I think, agaves growing in a cave on some far distant planet; I vividly remember the crew in a field of marguerites, planted in rows, on distant world, and monsteras (Swiss cheese plant/Mexican breadfruit) are always turning up whenever they get stranded in some hot and steamy forest environments. Prizes for more!