Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Glads, time for a closer look...

Five corms each of twelve different modern gladiolus hybrids were planted at the community garden plots earlier this year, and they are now beginning to bloom. I'll stick my neck out and say that these plants, although they have a huge potential for garden decoration,  are little used to that end in local gardens. Their rigidly upright growth habit is in pleasant contrast to the general mounding effect produced by so many plants. And the colors they provide are really remarkable. That they are so readily available, so inexpensive and so easy to grow only make their comparative scarcity in our garden that much more mysterious.

Yes, in some years there are significant problems with thrips. And the blooming period of any one plant is not long. And what the commercial florists do with them may give some potential growers reason to be careful not to produce similar effects in the garden. Their long association with funerals probably does not help their reputation.

If you haven't grown glads for a while, do as I did and buy a "collection" of a dozen or so named cultivars. If you are not both surprised and pleased when they bloom, maybe it's time for you to consider golf instead of gardening.

It's mostly the colors I can't get over: they are so varied, so bright and so effective in the garden. This year I took another look at garden glads and began to see them in a different way. All of my gardening life glads have meant spikes of color in the garden. This year I began to take a careful look at the individual flowers. One result is the image seen above. Now I'm on the lookout for other ways of using individual glad flowers. And I wonder how long individual flowers will keep in the refrigerator. This whole experience is a bit like that of meeting up with an old friend after years of separation and discovering that, in contrast to memories of a solid if rather plain person, the old friend is a lot more colorful and interesting than you ever suspected.

That's certainly true of modern glads!

The cultivars shown in the image above are 'Green Star', 'Fun Time' (red and yellow), 'Rhapsody in Blue' (pink-red with white blotch), 'Twilight' (violet with red streaks on some tepals), 'Vista' (violet with white blotch with red blotch - it reminds me of a Miltonia orchid), 'Romance' (pink) and  'King's Gold' (yellow).

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