Friday, July 17, 2009

Glorious Gladiolus


Gladiolus are another of those plants that hold a nostalgic place in my heart. The next door neighbors used to grow rows and rows of them at the far end of the vegetable garden, carefully lifting and storing the corms each autumn and replanting them the following spring for tall spires of summer blooms to cut for neighbors and friends. I'm less inclined to do the "digging and storing" thing, so I thought I'd tell you about one of my favorite perennial gladiolus that lives its life year-round in the garden--no digging, no cleaning, no storing, no replanting!

Meet 'Boone'. Commonly sold as Gladiolus x gandavensis 'Boone', it is now fairly certain that it is actually a form or very early hybrid of Gladiolus primulinus (now lumped into G. dalenii). It is a stalwart garden performer, hardy to at least Zone 5b and with numerous reports of it surviving colder locales. Its stunning golden-apricot blossoms are an almost indescribable color--think of the most luscious apricot sherbet you can imagine and you're almost there--and it flowers for a period of several weeks in mid-summer. And because it's a "glad" it will last beautifully when cut and brought indoors to enjoy, too!

Much more diminutive than the common florist's gladiolus, 'Boone' holds its head high in the garden with no flopping or laying on the neighbors. Green sword-like foliage brings that great vertical element to the garden before the flowers emerge and remains well after they're gone. Discovered near 'Boone' North Carolina on an abandoned homestead, Gladiolus 'Boone' was introduced by plant guru and former proprietor of Holbrook Farm and Nursery, Allen Bush (now the North American rep for German seed company Jelitto) and has become a favorite of every gardener who grows it. Allen is a great friend and the photo you see actually came from his garden when we filmed a segment with him for Volunteer Gardener a couple of years ago.

If 'Boone' has you salivating and tapping the keys to Google the nursery nearest you who offers it for sale, then there is a cousin I need to tell you about, too. If you're going to order 'Boone', then go ahead (you might as well, while you're at it!) and order 'Carolina Primrose', too! It's just as gorgeous in a soft, buttery primrose yellow and you'll want them both, anyway. It's hardy, too, and once you've grown one, you have to grow the other and it will just be easier to get them both now! Go on, it's okay. I won't tell, I promise. Order one and tell the significant other that the other one was a "bonus plant". Oh--you've already used that explanation, I see.....

Well, anyway, tuck some of these magnificent plants into the drier nooks and crannies of the garden and see what happens. They'll reseed themselves very politely into just the right places in the garden and, after a couple of seasons, you'll have just enough to share with all the friends who will be begging for them every time they visit your garden!

1 comment:

Tim said...

Glads remind me of my grandmother, who grew them much as you describe, in her New Hampshire garden. I am also one of those "modern gardeners" who simply won't ever get around to the annual dig and store, so these suggestions are most welcome! Can't wait to add these to my own garden!