Glads for Free – Tips for Growing Your Tiny Cormlets into Big Fat Corms
If you dug and stored your gladiolus last fall, you probably found lots of tiny cormlets – aka cormels – clustered around their bases. Plant those this spring and before long you’ll have hundreds of glads for free. Cliff Hartline in the NAGC’s Glad World offers these expert tips:
“Generally speaking, any cormel that falls thru a 1/8-inch screen does not produce well. . . . I only plant cormels the size of a pencil eraser or larger. I pass all my cormels over a 1/4-inch screen and plant those that do not fall through. . . . . The larger ones will definitely give you a larger corm to harvest and . . . if they are planted early, they will often bloom in September. . . .
“One year after I finished digging my large corms about September 20, I had the time to dig my glads from cormels. After pulling a few out of the ground, I saw that the corms were the size of a quarter or smaller. I decided to foliar feed them, and I applied fungicide at the same time. We had a frost October 15 so I dug them immediately after that. Many of the corms were jumbos, most were large, and very few were smaller. I would encourage people to wait until frost to dig cormel stock, and foliar feed late in the year. . . . The September feeding seemed to rejuvenate the growth and the fungicide kept the foliage healthy.”
We’ll remind you that cormlets have nearly impenetrable outer shells and they’ll sprout much better if you either nick or gently crack these or simply dissolve them by soaking in full-strength household bleach for a few hours immediately before planting. Plant cormlets in full sun, 1-2 inches deep and 1-2 inches apart, depending on size. Keep the soil moist but not soggy until grass-like foliage emerges and, for optimal growth, throughout the summer. Good luck, have fun, and let us know how they do for you! (May 2013)
New Today: Never-Before Glads, Bumper-Crop Discounts, and More!
Every January our intrepid glad grower in Maine calls us with good news. He’s been down in the basement cleaning and counting his corms, they look great, and would we be interested in some more of his treasures? Of course! So . . . .
1. For the first time EVER, we’re thrilled to offer ‘Snow Princess’, one of the oldest traditional glads we’ve ever sold, and two small-flowered beauties: lavender and sand ‘Caribbean’ and bright rose on white ‘Chipper’.
2. Available again for the first time since they sold out early last year are smoldering ‘Blue Smoke’, deep dark ‘La Coruna’, and three small-flowered pixies: fiery ‘Kakaga’, apricot ‘Sunbonnet Sue’, and shimmering ‘Towhead’.
3. Maybe best of all, three spectacular glads multiplied so well that we’re sharing the bounty by offering a 20% bumper-crop discount on them: orchid-like little ‘Firedance’, ravishing little ‘Starface’, and the Lauren Bacall of glads, ‘Dauntless’.
Quantities of all of these treasures are limited, so get ‘em while you can! (Jan. 2013)
‘Boone’ Rocks Amy’s Garden – and the Cover of Fine Gardening
A huge bouquet of ‘Boone’ glads from our micro-farms was gracing our office work-table when an email arrived reminding us that even one ‘Boone’ can be a thrill. “I just wanted to pass along a photo of my lovely ‘Boone’ gladiolus,” our good customer Amy Darnell of Columbia, Missouri, wrote. “I am so, so glad I bought it!”
Then the very next day the October issue of one of our favorite magazines, Fine Gardening, arrived with a big beautiful clump of ‘Boone’ on the cover! At first we didn’t recognize it because it looks vivid orange in the photo rather than the soft apricot it is in our gardens, but we know how hard it is to get flower colors just right. And although the accompanying article says it’s hardy in zones 8-10 only and will probably need staking – which is usually true of mainstream glads – ‘Boone’ is a hardy perennial here in our zone-6a gardens, and we never stake it. See Amy’s and FG’s photos – and then maybe grab a few for your own garden? As Amy says, you’ll be so, so glad you did. (August 2012)
Made in Michigan: Gladiolus for All
Although most cut-flowers today come from overseas, the next time you pick up a luscious bundle of glads at the supermarket you’ll probably be supporting a forward-looking Michigan farm family. Here’s their story, as told by Lynn and Jo Mayer when they were inducted into the Michigan Farmer’s Hall of Fame in 2010.
“In 1971, we bought our first farm and still reside there today. As young farmers, we worked full-time raising grain crops with a few acres of gladiolus…. At that time, gladiolus were known as funeral and wedding flowers and had limited uses.... We knew we would have to develop a new market if we were going to succeed.
“In the 1970s, floral sales in supermarkets were just getting started. That’s when we decided to attempt to mass merchandize gladiolus floral bouquets in supermarkets to be enjoyed as a cash-and-carry item. We knew this would be a challenge but gave it a try anyway….
“Today, we are the single largest producer of gladiolus cut flowers in the United States, producing, packaging, shipping and marketing nearly 400,000 glad stems per day from June 20 through October 20 each year. As a result, Michigan is the leading producer of gladiolus cut flowers in this country. We service nearly every major supermarket chain across the U.S. and Canada. We provide employment for approximately 200 people to produce and market nearly 1000 acres of hand-harvested cut flowers….
“In 2000, we transferred the farm to our four children…. We hope they are able to continue this family farm tradition, keeping Michigan on the map as the largest producer of gladiolus cut flowers in the U.S.”
Continuing to innovate, the Mayers are now supplying cut-flower peonies and sunflowers to supermarkets as well, so go ahead and treat yourself to a bundle of those the next time you see them, too – and thanks for helping to rebuild Michigan’s economy! (July 2012)
‘Atom’ to Help Celebrate Monet’s Gladioli and National Public Gardens Day
Inside/Out is a terrific program of the Detroit Institute of the Arts that brings reproductions of masterpieces from the DIA to the streets and parks of metro Detroit. Among the 80 works scattered about this year is one of our favorites, Monet’s Gladioli, which shows Monet’s wife in their home garden admiring a big bed of one of his favorite flowers. It’s on display at the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens where, to celebrate National Public Gardens Day, they’ll be giving away hundreds of our best-selling glad, ‘Atom’ – which looks a lot like Monet’s glads – at their spring Plant Sale on May 12. We’re proud to be partnering with the DIA and the Taylor Conservatory to celebrate heirloom art with heirloom flowers! Learn more here. (April 2012)
Staff Pick: Mike’s First and Favorite Glad
Mike joined the Navy right out of high school and came home six years later to start work on a degree in computer security. For the past year and a half he’s also been our awesome IT assistant, the guy behind our Facebook page, and a brand-new gardener. Kelly, our Micro-Farms Manager, writes:
“Mike loves glads. He came to us as a non-gardener, but since he’s such a nice guy I managed to rope him into helping me out on our big glad-planting day last year. After we’d planted thousands of corms and cormlets, Mike found an unidentified corm stuck in the cuff of his pants. I told him to take it home and plant it. Wasn’t he surprised to see a big spike of leaves emerge from that small corm. And then came the bloom stalk – ‘Lavanesque!’ It was even better than the picture.
“Mike has very little garden space at his apartment, so he was growing the glad in a pot on the porch. Just as it started to bloom, the wind blew it over. Undaunted, he salvaged the bloom stalk and brought it inside where the buds all opened and impressed the heck out of his girlfriend. Then the corm produced a second bloom stalk just when his mom had to go into the hospital, so he could cheer her up with it – cementing ‘Lavanesque’ as his favorite. This summer Mike plans to plant a purple bed of ‘Lavanesque’, ‘Violet Queen’, and ‘Fidelio’ in front of his mom’s smoky gray house. As he says, ‘It’s gonna look awesome!’” (March 2012)
Heirloom Bulbs for the White House Garden
Gardeners of all political stripes can agree on at least one important issue: the White House vegetable garden is a good thing. This spring, to thank First Lady Obama for inspiring so many gardeners and would-be gardeners, we sent her three of our favorite heirlooms to plant in her garden. “Although they’re not vegetables,” we wrote, “all three have traditionally been grown in vegetable gardens across America. They attract pollinators, they make great cut-flowers, and, as [Scott’s] grandmother used to say, they just look pretty out there.”
All three heirlooms have strong Midwestern roots, too. “The fragrant ‘Mexican Single’ tuberoses,” we continued, “come from a small family farm in Illinois where they’ve been grown since the 1920s. (You may have seen them for sale at farmers markets in Chicago.) The bright red, small-flowered ‘Atom’ gladiolus is grown for us on a family farm in Michigan. And the ‘Wisconsin Red’ dahlia is a family heirloom that’s been handed down from generation to generation since the early 1900s.”
We’ll probably never know whether our bulbs make it into the First Garden, but that’s okay. As with any gift, it’s the thought that counts, and one of gardening’s greatest pleasures is imagining what could be. (May 2011)
Prince Charles Plants Byzantine Glads at Home
True, zone-6 hardy Byzantine glads have gained another fan – His Royal Highness Prince Charles! In the March 2011 English Garden magazine (on newsstands now), Claire Masset reports on the Prince’s innovative, all-organic gardens at Highgrove, his family estate.
“Last autumn, at the Prince’s request,” she writes, his gardeners planted “masses of Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus bulbs on either side of the Hornbeam Avenue next to the Wildflower Meadow. In May and June, they will create a spectacle of magenta flowers that will complement dreamy displays of camassias and Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’. It’s no wonder the Prince tries to spend as much time as possible at Highgrove during these months.”
Masset adds that “increasingly, the focus [at Highgrove] has been on a much more sustainable approach to bulbs.” As head gardener Debs Goodenough explains, “Out of the 40,000 bulbs we planted last year, 95% are an investment in the garden. The crocuses and daffodils will carry on year after year.” (Feb. 2011)
Garden Artist Embraces Heirloom Glads
Like most artists, Atlanta-area garden designer Ryan Gainey has a keen eye for beauty and a creative spirit that won’t be bound by convention. He even likes gladiolus! In fact, he wrote a whole article about them, “So Glad,” for Flower magazine. As he explains, “my great-grandmothers and my Aunt Marie grew gladiolus” and he did too when he started gardening in the 1960s. ‘Spic and Span’ was an early favorite, and when 40 years later he found it in our catalog, he was “swept away by a wave of nostalgia.” Since then he’s added many other heirloom varieties to his garden, including the rare parrot glad, an old Southern form of G. dalenii.
Our readers can receive a special discounted subscription to Flower – four quarterly issues for $14.99 – by going to flowermag.com/subscribe and entering the source code, GLAD. Enjoy! (Feb. 2011)
Bright Spot of the Month: Glad Beauty at Robin’s Library
Like most gardeners, our good customer Robin Leach loves sharing the joys of her garden – but she does it in a really big way. Last summer she emailed us a few photos saying, “I thought you’d like to see how beautiful your glads look at my library. You can see why our patrons LOVE them!” It turns out that, for almost a decade now, she’s been bringing as many as five big bouquets a week to the library where she works – just for the fun of it. Read her inspiring story here. (Jan. 2011)
Web-Only: Parrot, Blue Smoke, and 3 More Treasures Debut Today
Psst! We just added five rare glads to our website this morning, and as a Gazette reader you’re the first to know.
25 corms of the small-flowered species known as parrot gladiolus is all we can spare this spring. This was the first African glad to reach American gardens way back in the 1830s. Get ’em while you can!
‘Blue Smoke’ is also sure to sell out, as it does every time we offer it. Its smoky, mesmerizing colors make it one of the most unusual glads of all time.
Today is the first time we’ve ever offered ‘Charisma’. Its summery colors and ruffles delighted us when we first grew it years ago, and we’ve been building up stock ever since.
‘Firedance’ is a tiny, paprika-flecked glad that reminds us of wild orchids, and ‘Spring Maid’ is a soft, almost silvery yellow glad that always looks dewy and fresh. (Jan. 2011)
Amazing ‘Atom’ and Tips for Perennial Glads from Zone-5 Idaho
Our customers are continuing to report success in over-wintering their glads outside. Daniel Ostenberg, for example, emailed us this past August:
“I live near Naples, Idaho, 35 miles south of Canada. It’s zone 5. I forgot an ‘Atom’ glad two winters ago while digging the rest of them and it came up the next spring. We did have good snow cover that winter and it wasn’t cold long before it snowed. I do have a neighbor nearby who mulches her glads every fall with six inches of straw and never digs them and she says they do fine. [Idaho’s relatively dry weather and well-drained, alkaline soils probably play a role in this success, too.]
“Also I saved some little bulblets from my ‘Atom’ last fall and planted them this spring in a container and four out of five of them are blooming. I didn’t think they would bloom the first year.
“One of the best gardeners I know told me that glads love calcium nitrate but she couldn’t find any. I’m an ex-apple farmer from the East Washington apple country, and I always get calcium nitrate from the ag-supply companies in apple country. I use it on my glads and get it for her for the 1000 glads that she grows. Orchardists use a lot of calcium nitrate. Trees love it.
“I’m going to leave one each of a few other kinds of glads in the ground this fall and mulch them heavily with straw and see what happens. I’ll let you know next summer how it turns out.” (Dec. 2010)
High Heat Stresses Your Bulbs, Too
High heat has plagued much of the country this summer. Some bulbs like it, but others suffer. Dahlias, for example, have struggled or failed in many gardens where they usually thrive. That’s because they come originally from the mountain plateaus of Mexico where days are hot but nights are dramatically cooler. When nights are too warm, dahlias just can’t grow well. Some varieties are more sensitive than others and can even die. The good news is that if you can keep them going till temperatures cool (which has to happen sometime, right?), they’ll kick back into gear and bloom gloriously till frost.
Glads may develop kinked stems in unusually hot weather as they sag a bit during the day, unable to fully replenish the water evaporating from them, and then grow upright at night when evaporation slows. This is most often a problem with glads like ‘Atom’ that have thin, wiry stems. To help, keep your glads well-watered and protect their shallow, wide-spreading roots from disturbance. Tiny sucking insects called thrips proliferate when it’s hot, too, and can leave glad leaves and blossoms mottled, or even prevent buds from opening. For tips on control, see oldhousegardens.com/Thrips.asp
Heat affects flower color, too. Deep-colored lilies such as ‘African Queen’; may be paler in high heat, bicolor dahlias such as ‘Deuil du Roi Albert‘ may bloom temporarily as solids, and the rosy tones of ‘Kaiser Wilhelm‘ and others won’t develop fully until the weather cools.
Of course some bulbs love the heat. In many gardens this summer, cannas, tuberoses, and rain lilies have been especially happy – and we hope you’ve been enjoying them. (Aug. 2010)
How Winter-Hardy Are Your Glads? Our Readers Report
Although most experts say gladiolus won’t survive winters north of zone 8, our customers kept telling us that theirs were returning like perennials in zones 7, 6, and even 5. So we asked our readers, “Have your regular glads survived zone-6 or colder winters? And what do you think made that possible?” Many replied (thanks!), and now you can read what they said along with our conclusions at oldhousegardens.com/Hardy-Glads.asp.
Although warmer, shorter winters are probably the biggest reason why so many glads are surviving in colder zones, other important factors seem to include reliable snow cover, winter mulch, deep planting, good drainage, micro-climates, plenty of sun, and the time-tested vigor of heirlooms. To add your two-cents to the discussion, email email@example.com. And if you’d like to experiment with glads as perennials in your own garden, we suggest starting with the tough little one our readers recommended most: ‘Atom’. (Aug. 2010)
Serving You Better: ‘Boone’ and ‘Carolina Primrose’ Glads
You told us you were disappointed, so we found a solution.
‘Boone’ and ‘Carolina Primrose’ are two of our most amazing glads, but the small potted plants we’ve shipped the past couple of years were frustratingly small and often got beat-up on their way to you. Finally we realized (Doh!) that instead of shipping them as soon as they arrived from our West Virginia grower, we could plant them here, grow them for another year, and then harvest and ship them as bigger, dormant corms. So that’s what we’re doing.
If we sent you a ‘Boone’ or ‘Carolina Primrose’ that ended up disappointing you, please let us know so we can replace it next spring with one of our new, improved corms. (June 2010)
The Frugal Gardener: To Multiply Your Glads, Plant Cormlets
If you dug and stored your glads last fall, you probably noticed lots of tiny cormlets (or cormels) clustered around the bases. Ranging in size from a BB to larger than a pea, these mini-corms will grow to blooming-size in a year or two.
Getting them to sprout, though, can be a challenge, due to their nearly impermeable shells. You can nick or gently crack the shells, but it’s easier to dissolve them by soaking in full-strength household bleach for a few hours just before planting. Plant in full sun, 1-2 inches deep and 1-2 inches apart, depending on size. Keep the soil moist but not soggy till grass-like foliage emerges and, for optimal growth, throughout the summer. With good care, any cormlet larger than a pea will grow to blooming-size by the time you harvest them in the fall, and the smaller ones by the following fall. Good luck and have fun! (May 2010)
Last Chance: ‘Venetie’ Going Commercially Extinct
When the last big, mainstream farmer quits growing a bulb variety, we say it’s gone “commercially extinct.” Although collectors and a small farmer or two may still grow it, once the mainstream trade abandons a bulb, it’s much closer to being lost forever. And that’s what’s just happened to ‘Venetie’. To save it from complete oblivion, we’ll plant 100 corms here, and hopefully in a few years we’ll be able to offer it again, but it will always be in very small quantities and at the much higher prices that come from small-scale production. So if you want it – or want to help save it – order now! (April 2010)
‘Lucky Star’ is Garden Gate’s “Top New Bulb” for 2010
We’re beaming! In its annual “best of the new plants” article, Garden Gate has named our ‘Lucky Star’ gladiolus its “Top New Bulb” for 2010.
Although originally introduced in 1966, ‘Lucky Star’ was virtually lost to gardeners for decades. Its unusual, angular form is eye-catching, but what really sets it apart is . . . it’s fragrant! We’re sure to sell out now that Garden Gate is spreading the word, so if you want to plant a few this spring, you’d be wise to order now. (March 2010)
Tell Bill and Us: How Winter-Hardy Are Your Glads?
Our good customer Bill Killpatrick of Lafayette, NJ, wrote us recently:
“I’d love it if you’d ask your readers about glads. . . . I’m just getting too old and creaky to dig ‘em all up. Find it easier to just buy new every spring. But, much to my surprise, for the past four winters, a good 80% of the corms have wintered over just fine right in the garden. Officially, I’m a zone 6. Due to elevation and exposure, I’m really a zone 5-ish. We’ve NOT had reliable snow cover, I don’t mulch, nuthin’. But come spring, up pop the glads – big, double-corm, monster glads.”
The glads he’s talking about aren’t our zone-6 hardy Byzantine, Boone, or Carolina Primrose, but just regular glads. And we’ve heard similar reports from other customers. Jane Murphy of zone-6 Concord, Massachusetts, for example, wrote that “some of the overlooked gladiolus bulbs I left in the garden last winter flowered, including a lovely salmon-colored one [‘Spic and Span’?] in October,” and Kathi Frank of zone 5/6 Onsted, Michigan, wrote “I just have to tell you my joy when my ‘Atom’ survived the winter and came back this summer as beautiful as ever. What a bonus!”
So we’re asking you: have your regular glads survived zone-6 or colder winters? And what do you think made that possible? Email Charlie@oldhousegardens.com and we’ll share your experiences here. (Feb. 2010)
And 4 New Glads: Allegro, Contentment, Green Lace, Sunbonnet Sue
Psst! We just added four rare glads from the 1950s and ‘60s to our website today, and you’re the first to know. Ruby-red ‘Allegro’ sold out way too early last spring, so you might like to take a look at it first. Then there’s misty, lavender-pink ‘Contentment’ and two cute, small-flowered pixies: ‘Green Lace’ and ‘Sunbonnet Sue’. All are easy to grow, long-lasting in bouquets, and truly something special. (Jan. 2010)
Community Gardener Brightens Queens with Our Glads
A month ago, our new customer Alia Ganaposki emailed us this heart-warming report on the glads she planted at Two Coves Community Garden in Queens:
“The ‘Atoms’ were the standout winners, but all of the varieties have been brilliant. Because my plot is far from my house, I planted them for cut flowers, mostly– but very few made it home. My first blooms went to Auntie Luscious, who wanted a bouquet for a friend’s birthday – I believe the gentlewoman was turning 94? The next blooms went to Arcadio (Junior), who had given me pink pepper seeds in the spring.
“Big white blooms [‘White Friendship’] went to Millie, who lets the kids play in front of her patch and doesn’t lose her temper when the play sometimes tumbles into her plot. My next batch of blooms will probably go to Louis and Tim, who built a wonderful shelter and painted it with Bob Marley lyrics. But don’t think I’m not getting any harvest. I wasn’t willing to share the ‘Elviras’. My charity only extends so far.
“Anyway, I wanted you to know that the bulbs you sent me have brightened many lives, not just my own. Thanks so much for your work! I look forward to ordering (many) more bulbs from you in the future.” (Sept. 2009)
Boone Gladiolus: Small But Mighty
The baby ‘Boone’ plants we’ve been shipping this spring are babies, but give them a sunny spot and good care and they should bloom by late summer.
If not, that could be a blessing in disguise – to judge from the experience of our good friend (and garden writer) Russell Studebaker of Tulsa. The ONE we sent him a couple of years ago didn’t bloom its first year, but the next year he had five bloom stalks from that one plant. Yes, FIVE! As Russell said, “Not bad. And who knows what it will do next year!” (Apr. 2009)
Andy Says “Get Back to Basics” with Fiery Little ‘Atom’
Andy Cabe, botanical garden director at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC, wrote recently in The State:
“While driving in to work . . . , the old Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song, ‘Luckenbach, Texas’ popped into my head. There is a line that goes, ‘Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love.’ Well, it dawned on me that this line may apply to gardening as well; sometimes we need to get back to those basic plants that we’ve loved for years. Gladiolus is one of those plants.
“. . . One of my favorite varieties of late has to be gladiolus ‘Atom’ . . . with amazing, fiery red blooms outlined with a hint of pure white. ‘Atom’ is shorter than many other varieties . . . [so it’s] easy to integrate into the landscape. . . . I find that they are most effective in masses of 10 bulbs or more (this will allow you to cut several stems to take into the house and still leave plenty of blooms to liven up the garden). . . .
“New plants are always fun and interesting, but we should never forget the forefathers. Sometimes, it’s good to get back to the basics.” (Apr. 2009)
Is That Jasmine I Smell, or Abyssinian Glads?
The delightful but hard-to-define fragrance of Abyssinian glads continues to inspire email from our customers. “A delicate jasmine” is how Grace Barella of Fort Lauderdale describes it, and what could be better than that?
Doug Whitman of Marcellus, NY, is equally appreciative but he says “They smell only like Abyssinian glads! I know of no other fragrance quite like theirs. I have about 50 of them this year, all planted together, and they have been prolific bloomers (5-10 blooms/stalk), to say nothing of their exquisite beauty and magnificent fragrance. All I need do is step out of my front door and their scent reaches me from 50 feet away.”
On the other hand, Doug notes that some visitors to his garden “can’t detect their fragrance at all, even with their noses buried in the blooms.” Alas! (Mar. 2009)
No Need to Buy a Monet, Just Garden Like Him!
For the last twenty years of his life, Monet painted only one subject: his gardens in Giverny. Many bulbs played a leading role in those gardens, and it seems his taste for bulbs was shaped, at least in part, by financial difficulties in his early years.
In Monet: The Gardener (2002), Sidney Eddison writes: “Today, water lilies continue to float on the pond at Giverny. In May, irises in every imaginable shade of blue and violet bloom in their long, narrow beds; in June, roses smother the metal arches along the front walk. By midsummer, gladioli stand tall among the nasturtiums, which have begun their headlong rush toward the middle of the path. And in the fall, dahlias lavish their rich colors on the beds. The gardens, now open to the public, are the property of the Academie des Beaux-Arts. But Claude Monet still owns them.”
In the same book, Robert Gordon writes of Monet’s early career: “Given his precarious finances and the temporary nature of his abodes, many of the plants he chose were annuals . . . or corms, such as gladiolus, which can be dug up in the fall and saved from year to year. At Argenteuil, Monet planted gladiolus corms by the hundreds. In a painting simply titled Gladioli of 1876, . . . [Monet’s wife] Camille . . . gazes wistfully at cheerful ranks of pink, red, and bicolor flowers. . . . Two years later, in a work depicting Monet’s new garden at Vetheuil, gladioli appear again, but this time growing in decorative blue-and-white ceramic containers – a reminder of the impermanent nature of these early gardens. The same containers ultimately found a home at Giverny.” (Jan. 2009)
Another Sniff of Abyssinian Glads
Our friend Jonathan Lubar of Gainesville, Florida adds this to our ongoing discussion of the fragrance of Abyssinian glad: “I think they smell like four o’clocks (somewhat citrus flower-scented).” (Nov. 2008)
What Do Abyssinians Smell Like, Part 3
Here’s another contribution to our ongoing discussion, from our good customers Elizabeth and Sarah Heeren: “We think the Abyssinian glads smell like Easter lilies.” (late Oct. 2008)
What Do Abyssinian Glads Smell Like? Part 2
Our good friend Larry Rettig of the Amana Colonies in Iowa writes:
“I just read your latest newsletter and had to run right out to smell the Abyssinian glads I ordered from you this spring. Definitely an angel-trumpet-type fragrance (Datura), perhaps tending a bit toward its relative, Brugmansia. All three are blooming at the moment, so it was easy to make a comparison.”
Does your nose agree? Email us your fragrance-description!
What Do Abyssinian Glads Smell Like?
When our Abyssinian glads started blooming here in August, the debate to describe their subtle fragrance began.
“Perfumey,” Alexa said, “Like lilac, with a touch of . . . ?”
“Honeysuckle,” Renee suggested, “lilac and honeysuckle . . . and maybe forsythia?”
“Forsythia? What does forsythia smell like?” everyone asked.
“I love this scent,” Jessica said, “but I can’t describe it.”
“I can’t even smell it,” Scott lamented.
So help us out. What do Abyssinian glads smell like to you? (Sept. 2008)
Ugly Little Buggers: Gladiolus Thrips
These almost invisible insects suck the life out of glads. To learn about their warning signs and how to protect your glads, check out our new web-page at oldhousegardens.com/thrips.asp . (April 2008)
Customer Raves: Another Glad-Hater Converted by Our Heirlooms
Last summer, Kerry Hoffman of Clara’s Meadow Flower & Herb Farm in Watsontown, Pennsylvania, wrote us in excitement:
“Just wanted to tell you how absolutely GORGEOUS the glads are that I planted this spring. I’m a cut-flower market grower, and I stayed away from gladiolus because they were just too big for my bouquets and, truthfully, rather gaudy looking to me. But your heirloom varieties are stunning! They’re an absolute hit with my customers, too. ‘Atom’ was the first to bloom last week, and everyone wanted to know its name. I love you guys. I will buy from you faithfully forever and ever and ever.” (Apr. 2008)
Tip of the Month: Storing Glads in Egg Cartons
Here’s a creative and earth-friendly suggestion for storing gladiolus bulbs from Lena Hart of Bayfield, WI, writing in Fine Gardening magazine:
“I have discovered an excellent storage container [for glads]: an egg carton. I simply fill it with a dozen cleaned bulbs and write the variety name with a permanent marker in the corresponding spot on the cover, the way candies are labeled in a box. The individual cells keep mold and diseases from spreading, and the carton takes up just a little space on a basement shelf.” We’d only add that, if you're using styrofoam egg cartons, be sure your bulbs are good and dry before storing them.
For more advice on winter storage, see our “Planting and Care”. (Nov. 2007)
Web-Only Special: ‘Little Mo’ Gladiolus
More and more gardeners are re-discovering the virtues of glads, especially the small-flowered ones that blend easily into mixed borders. Here’s one more we can finally share with you — if you move fast, because we have just 50 corms! From the psychedelic 1960s, ‘Little Mo’ [currently unavailable] is a zippy, small-flowered cutie of vivid coral-orange. Plant it this spring in your garden or pots for a happy little jolt of energy. (March 2007)
Scott and Old House Glads Featured in Garden Gate Magazine
“Scott Kunst on Growing Spectacular Glads” – that’s the title of the article that kicks off the Jan.-Feb. issue of Garden Gate magazine. It’s part of an on-going series that features nationally-known experts talking about topics of growing interest. With the help of editor Jim Childs (one of our favorite garden writers), Scott shares his tips for growing glads in pots, perennial borders, and throughout your garden, and recommends five of his favorite heirloom glads. (Jan. 2007)
She’s Awed by Our TRUE Byzantine Glads
Our fall-planted Bulb of the Year is NOT your ordinary glad. For a start, it’s perennial through zone 6, and we have true stock! Our good customer Tamara Bastone of Chesapeake, Virginia, writes:
“Yes, without a doubt your Byzantine glad is the real thing and worth every penny to boot! I ordered one last fall and when it bloomed alongside of the other Byzantines I had grown for years (of course thinking they were the ‘real’ thing but wondering why they didn’t look like the ones in English gardens), I was in awe of its beauty. The color is a deep magenta and it is taller and sturdier. Plus, it’s a good investment for it will multiply over the years. Trust me, you are the only ones offering the ‘real’ thing. Thank you!” (Sept. 2006)
Gladiolus Bonus: Hummingbirds
A self-described “glad lover for over 50 years,” our good customer Margaret Kwitek of Maribel, Wisconsin, says if you don’t have glads blooming in your garden this summer, you’re missing more than flowers:
“Oh my goodness, your pictures of glads are wonderful! As for any ‘glad haters,’ all they have to do is put a comfy chair in the garden when the glads are in their glory. Sit quietly and enjoy the show of hummingbirds. They seem to know when you relax and feel quite comfortable coming in to those lovely flowers. I’ve even had them come to flowers I had cut and was bringing into the house. I’m never disappointed when I need a lift. I ALWAYS have glads if for no other reason. Who would fail to be delighted?” (Aug. 2006)
Japanese Gardeners Prize Butterfly-like ‘Atom’ Glads
Here’s an interesting tidbit about our current Spring-Planted Heirloom Bulb of the Year from Growing Gladioli (1989) by Anderton and Park:
“In Japan, where it was a huge success years ago, ‘Atom’ was known as Beni Kochi (Little Butterflies).” (April 2006)
Read Scott’s “Glads for Glad-Haters” at BBG.org
When the Brooklyn Botanic Garden newsletter asked Scott to write an article about small-flowered glads (the next big thing?) for their “Plants with Pizzazz” column, of course he said yes! Now you can read the entire article online at the BBG website at v1.bbg.org/gar2/topics/plants/2006sp_glads.html. (March 2006)
Newsletter Special: Parrot Glads, Rare African Wildflower
Don’t delay! It’s been years since we’ve had enough of this rare glad to offer it, and we expect the handful of corms we have will sell out in a flash.
The parrot gladiolus [currently unavailable] was the first African glad to reach American gardens way back in the early 1800s, and though it has long disappeared from commerce it can still be found in old Southern cottage gardens. Small-flowered and bright, this rare wildflower will add an exotic touch to any garden, and it’s hardy through zone 7 at least. (Feb. 2006)
Monet and Parrot Glads
While thumbing through a book about Monet recently, I was excited to see what I’m convinced are parrot glads [currently unavailable] blooming in one of his best known paintings, “Garden at Sainte-Adresse.” Painted in 1867, it shows a sunny, waterside garden with tall, narrow, red and yellow glads that must be parrots. See if you agree: nga.gov.au/MonetJapan/Detail.cfm?WorkID=W95 (click on the painting to enlarge it).
Monet also painted a large bed of glads in his own garden with Mme. Monet standing in back admiring them, a painting I have enjoyed at the Detroit Institute of Arts for years. (see dia.org/the_collection/overview/full.asp?objectID=54805&image=1). So there’s no need to plant a pond full of waterlilies to garden à la Monet. Just plant a few of our old glads and you’ll be all set! (Feb. 2006)
We Say Byzantine Glads, They Say Whistling Jacks
Our friend Greg Grant sent us this tidbit by the illustrious Roy Lancaster from a BBC website:
“I recommend a wild species, the Gladiolus byzantinus, which is very common in the Isles of Scilly where they call it Whistling Jacks. It’s perennial and the flowers are quite outstanding with a rich purplish-rose color.” (Oct. 2005)
Our True Byzantine Glads Flourish in Ireland, Too
Our Texas friend Cynthia Mueller emailed us in June saying:
“I’m happy to report that our old friend, Gladiolus byzantinus, is alive and well in southern Ireland. A few weeks ago I saw them blooming proudly in Helen Dillon’s Dublin garden, Glasnevin Botanical Garden, Powerscourt, Muckross Castle, at Mount Juliet estate, and here and there along the way in cottage gardens. . . . The winters there are fairly warm but the summers are never as hot as here in Texas where they thrive. The glads were growing happily with Oriental poppies, columbine, tradescantia, knautia, bronze fennel, bearded iris, true geraniums, Russell lupines, foxgloves, and so on.” (Sept. 2005)
A Glad Worth Stealing: ‘Atom’ Snatched in Seattle
This just in from our Seattle friend Gail Chapman whose shop A Garden of Distinction is a treasure-box of antique and modern garden furnishings:
“Can you believe this? A woman came along in front of our showroom and dug up your ‘Atom’ gladiolus bulbs which have been blooming gloriously for us since 2001. Our building courtyard was also robbed twice in the last month, and a friend who owns a water garden nursery has had her very expensive Koi stolen. Ah, such times. And I thought gardening was so pure and peaceful!” (July 2005)
Glads in Pots
We often plant glads in black plastic nursery pots and then when they bloom we set them into the border wherever a fresh burst of color is needed. As a bonus, the rigid sides of pots help keep glads standing upright better than they often do when planted directly in the garden. (2005-06 catalog)
Gladiolus “Best of All” in 1890
Glads were one of the most popular flowers of the late 1800s, as attested to by Eben Rexford of Wisconsin in his Home Floriculture of 1890:
“The gladiolus is the best of all the summer-flowering bulbs, all things considered. . . . It is a flower anybody can grow, and it is lovely enough to satisfy the most exacting. . . .
“Of late . . . the size of the flower has been increased, its colors intensified, and new markings and combinations of colors of wonderful beauty have rewarded the skillful hybridizer. It deserves a place in every collection. . . .
“There is nothing coarse about the Gladiolus. It has all the delicacy of the Lily combined with the magnificence of color peculiar to the most brilliant and showy tropical plants. Nothing is finer for cutting for vases. . . .
“The bulb increases rapidly. If you invest a dollar or two in bulbs this season you will have quite a stock of them in fall, when you come to dig them, and from these, planted next spring, you will obtain all you care to use, and very likely more. If so, it will afford you a great deal of pleasure, doubtless, to share them with your flower loving friends who may not be so fortunate as you are.” (2004-05 catalog)
Style Alert from Garden Design: Glads and Dahlias Are Cool Again!
In its March issue, chic Garden Design magazine offers a full-page “Guide to Plant Snobbery.” Good news: glads and dahlias are in again! ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, they write, “put dahlias on the comeback trail,” and now “the stylometer has swung 180 degrees: not only do bunches of dahlias grace the most sophisticated interiors, it is okay to own up to a weakness for panty-pink cactus forms” like our ‘Miss Rose Fletcher’. As for glads, they write that “tastemakers such as Beth Chatto, English plantswoman, returned to the long-neglected species . . . and rehabilitated the genus.” They praise Gladiolus byzantinus with its “elegantly arching stems with cerise pink flowers” and add that “even the Doris Day types are trendy again.”
So, be cool! Order some great old glads and dahlias for spring planting! (March 2004)
Tough Little ‘Atom’ Survives Two Years in Storage
Sandra Pickett of New Castle, Indiana, writes of our best-selling glad:
“Two years ago, I dug up my gladiolus bulbs and put them in a crawl space to store. Last year, I completely forgot about them. This year, when I discovered them again, they were dried up, and not so healthy looking. I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I planted them. Imagine my surprise when my ‘Atom’ appeared, the first glad of the season. Talk about a survivor!!! Your bulbs are wonderful.” (Dec. 2003)
Fine Gardening Spotlights Our “Antique Beauties”
The May/June issue of Fine Gardening magazine features a great article (if we do say so ourselves) by our own Scott Kunst. It’s titled “Antique Beauties: Heirloom Dahlias, Gladiolus, and Cannas,” and it includes dramatic photos of a baker’s dozen of our very best. Check it out! (June 2003)
Hummingbirds Put Differences Aside for ‘Atom’
Our good customer Elizabeth Newsom of El Cerrito, CA, writes:
“The hummingbirds loved my ‘Atom’ glads. Sometimes there’d be two birds drinking at the same time, and they are determinedly territorial! Thanks for the great show.” (2003-04 catalog)
Two Customers Say “Yes” to Glads
Last month, we asked you to tell us why you do or don’t plant spring-planted bulbs. To all of you who responded, thank you! Here are two “glad” responses:
“I always plant a few glads because they are foolproof,” says Leslie Swartz from Hollister, California. “No feeding, no extra watering, planted in unamended adobe clay soil.” Kae McDonald of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, adds, “We lived in a condo, and I found that glads did very well in containers.” (Jan. 2003)
For Gazette Readers Only: Extra-Rare ‘Grey Wing’ Glad
Still too rare for our catalog, ‘Grey Wing’ [currently unavailable] is available this spring to our newsletter subscribers only – and we can spare just 50 corms! One of the oldest and most unusual glads we’ve ever grown, this exotic beauty really is gray – a silvery, smoky, pewtery, pearly, luminous gray that’s both unique and gorgeous. Introduced from Australia in 1934, it hasn’t been offered in the US for decades. We’ve been slowly building up stock from a few corms that we got from the Old-Timers Guild of the North American Gladiolus Council. Be one of the first to enjoy the rare fruits of our glad labors. (Jan. 2003)
High Heat and Glads
Glads may grow with kinked stems in extra-hot weather as they sag a bit during the heat of the day – unable to keep their cells full of water – and then grow upright at night.
Thrips (tiny sucking insects) may attack your glads when it’s extra hot, too. Insecticidal soap is one mild control.
And heat affects gladiolus colors, too. ‘Green Woodpecker’ glads [currently unavailable] in many areas were more yellow this year due to abnormally high temperatures. (Sept. 2002)
For articles on other topics, see our main Newsletter Archives page.