"Among these tottering houses, with their moldering earthen walls which wind and rain would soon return to the soil, the vigor of life could be glimpsed only in the vegetation, in the occasional shock of a blossoming sunflower or canna."

From "Lemon" by Motojiro Kajii Translated by Robert Ulmer, "The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories" (Oxford University Press)

Orange, red and yellow canna flowers (the name is the same in English and Japanese) seem almost too lush and bright for Japanese sensibilities, but since they were introduced from India in the Edo Period (1603-1867) they have become part of the local summer scene. To unfurl their ornamental leaves they need plenty of moisture, so if you see a wilting canna after this year's brief rainy season, please give it an extra drink.