I call them Glads. If Russell Crowe (The Gladiator) showed up on the doorstep with a bouquet of Gladioli, I'd be MORE than glad. Wait...Let me change that daydream to Maximus showing up on the doorstep in any of his Gladiator outfits with a bouquet of Sword Lilies. Yeah....that's better.
But I loved Glads, the "sword lily", long before the movie.
Here's a photo from the mid 1990's. It was one day's cutting of glads from the garden, and these were headed to shut-ins. We had been buying the end-of-season half-priced glad bulbs from Walmart for several years, planting them, and then digging up the bulbs in the fall. Of course, bulbs multiply generously, and we were doing all the right things to maximize the blooms and the number and size of the bulbs.
Then, as if so often the case with passions, something came along to steal our attention from this beautiful annual ritual. I think it was one of Mama's illnesses. The glads valiantly fought to survive in the ground over the winter, disappearing one by one by one over the next half a decade until last year when Unc salvaged a few bulbs that had hitched a ride as bublets on some garden grass that had been removed.
Those little bublets grew into big bulbs and multiplied and gave a few beautiful blooms in some very poor clay soil. But the blooms were enough to let us know they were there, and we once again began the ritual of digging them up at fall and saving them through the winter. The yellow with red gladiolus in the picture above is one of those valiant survivors that bloomed in 2007. I blogged briefly about its survival, but I'm not sure this variety, yellow-with-blood-red-dripped-centers, survived until last fall's systematic "rescue".
Today, Unc counted 47 green spears or swords that had burst forth from the ground in the garden. At least 47 bulbs are alive and ready to fight to produce a spectacular bloom stalk. The tallest foilage is about a foot high now. There will be more to poke out from the rain-soaked ground, and I hope it is not too much rain that might cause any of the planted bulbs or tiny bulblets to rot.
Among the expected blooms this year are these two new-to-me varieties. Manteca, pictured above, and Princess Margaret Rose, pictured below.
In May, I was ordering Unc some late summer onions to plant, and the site had gladioli bulbs at half price. Ten little bulbs of each variety will give us armfulls of beautiful glads to share in just a few short years. The bulbs were a small Mother's Day present to myself (since I am a mother of fur-children).
So, soon, I hope to share with you photos of beautiful gladioli stalks in full bloom. It will be a fun mystery to discover if more than one of the previous collection of four varieties (color combinations) survived the years of neglect. I hope so. It is most encouraging to see something neglected and undernourished come back to its former beauty, is it not?