April 16, 2011

In the greenhouse - the last species Gladiolus

GLADIOLUS ALATUS
 The last of my winter-rainfall ( i.e. winter greenhouse growing) Gladiolus species are blooming now, and it seems as if the best wait until the last moment. I knew that Gladiolus tristis ( far below) would bloom near the end of the season, since I've grown the species for a few years, but with the dozen or so new species I tried this year, I never really knew what would bloom next. If you remember, I decided to try something new in the greenhouse raised beds this winter, because I was just becoming a little bored with my Oxalis species and other South African bulbs. So in October, I planted a collection of rare South African winter growing Gladiolus that I obtained from Telos Rare Bulbs. They continue to live in my collection, but I needed something new to explore and discover, and the species gladiolus seemed to make the best sense.
Gladiolus alatus has remarkably colorful flowers, much smaller than I imagined them to be. The overall plant, as with many South African bulbs, is rarely shown in photos, since the habit is often lazy and lax because most of these bulbs growin deep, dense grass or Fynbos in the wild. There is nothing wrong with the floppy leaves and stems which one should stake, for nature evolved these species to lean on their neighbors.

GLADIOLUS TRISTIS
 It may be safe to say the G. tristis is my new favorite plant. Not only does it make a nice show as a pot ( or garden plant), with lots of flowers and stronger stems, it is intensely fragrant in a way that makes one close their eyes and swoon. I ADORE G.TRISTIS! It is scented during the day, but in the evening, the show really begins. There are times when I forget that it is in bloom, and  I walk into the greenhouse and I am hit by the scent which is far for being too sweet or intense, rather is is deeply rich  and more like rich, sweet cream and jasmine, combined with gardenia and lily of the valley, with a hint of cinnamon and clove. Add in vanilla and this plant smells like a cinnabon crossed with a gardenia. Yummy. I have three pots now packed with bulbs, and I purchased 100 bulbs for growing in the summer garden from McClure & Zimmerman who is offering it as a late summer bloomer. It's not hardy in Zone 5, so pot them up incase an early frost arrives.


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