Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  Living Treasure from the Past


January 2020

Jan
29
2020

Is This the Year You Give Glads a Try?

Joseph Tychonievich doesn’t just love glads. “I freaking adore them,” he writes in the May 2019 issue of Horticulture.

And if you’re not a glad-lover – if you still think of them as “funeral flowers” or “tired old grandma flowers” – he’s out to change your mind.

Maybe you prefer “a more graceful, natural look.” If so, Joseph recommends “old-fashioned varieties” such as ‘Atom’. This smaller glad has “graceful hooded blooms” of “rich, saturated scarlet” with “each petal edged with a perfect line of white.” They’re also spaced out a bit along the stem “so you can enjoy the charm of each individual flower.”

“While some modern hybrids look too stiff and artificial to mingle easily with other plants,” Joseph continues, ‘Atom’ has “a wildling grace that looks marvelous either in a bed with other perennials or in an informal flower arrangement.”

Joseph is also a big fan of the Abyssinian glad. It’s “a treasure because right in the hottest part of the summer, when everything is looking tired and worn, this gladiolus starts pumping out crisp white flowers marked with dark maroon at the base of each petal…. The flowers boast a rich, spicy fragrance that gets stronger once dusk begins to fall.”

Gladiolus byzantinus, he points out, is one of the few Gladiolus species that hail from Europe instead of Africa, and “unlike the African bulbs that you should plant in the spring, this one is best planted in the fall, like a daffodil. Come spring the swordlike leaves pop out of the ground early, with elegant spikes of brilliant pink, graceful flowers following soon behind them. If they’re happy—and to be happy they need little more than full sun – they’ll quickly clump up and come back year after year.”

Diverse, “blessedly easy to grow,” and often “incredibly inexpensive,” glads are “too delightful a group of plants to let your prejudices stand in the way of enjoying them,” Joseph writes in closing. “Give them a shot in your garden this year. I promise you won’t regret it” – and we couldn’t agree more!