For decades and generations of gardeners, the gladiolus have been largely ignored. More popular with florists, the large, cut flower sprays are inexpensive, primarily used in funeral arrangements. Sadly they are often called funeral flowers, not a pleasant moniker.
But that may be changing! Several thoughts come to mind when I think of their recent popularity. The bulbs (technically corms) are inexpensive. Our gardening styles have changed, we trend towards looser, more free flowing gardens. Recent hybrids are glorious in their color blends and quite a few are hardy in our zone. And lastly, it may be just another “what’s old is new again”.
For a minimum of 15 years I have grown Gladilus dalenii ‘Boone’. Very hardy, the petals are a soft apricot with a hint of yellow on the lower petals and small orange stripes. Flowering in late June and early July, it’s beautiful with matching daylilies. Discovered in Boone, NC. It was found at an old homesite by their agricultural extension agent, Jeff Owen. Like so many old fashioned flowers, these were pass along plants, easily done when the gift was little more than a dormant bulb, shared from gardener to gardener.
Last fall I decided to try another hardy glad, this one Gladiolus communis var. byzantinus ‘Cruentas’ (often called Gladiolus byzantinus). There was much made about buying the right one, a paler flowering counterpart is not nearly as beautiful. My small box arrived, I say small because the price tag was big. Having never grown this species, I knew only to expect purplish, gladiolus-like flowers. To my delight they began flowering in May, and I had placed them with Salvia ‘Madeline’, Amsonia tabernaemontana, and nepeta. Brilliant! The flowers are a glorious shade of rose-purple. Striking in their intensity, perfect spikes in my mix of blues and purples.
I was so stoked, that 5 more bags of gladiolus await my planting. These are mixed hybrids of questionable hardiness, they will join the rows of others that have wintered over, my hopes high that they may too.
A quick search on the internet finds most purveyors of glads sold out. Possibly due to the time of year, or might it be a trend? Are people glad happy?