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"In summer a strew of fresh rushes, mint,"and gladiolus (that flower so dear to mediaeval eyes) covered the pavement with a cool fragrance, while a bough of some green tree or flowering bush filled the hearth."
— (From chapter, The Mediaeval Country-House), "The Fields of France," MADAME MARY DUCLAUX.
NOTES ON SOME OF THE NEWER GLADIOLI
As we work under leafless trees and where nothing of green remains save the bright grass and the rich hues of pine and hemlock, the colors imprisoned within each bulb are sure to rise before me. I see again the rainbow of that wonderful exhibit of gladiolus as it was to be seen in Chicago last August; the matchless beauty of such blooms as Niagara and Panama. And I here set down a few notes on the gladiolus made last summer, both at home and away from it.
And first let me say that the best recent happening for the lover of this flower, and consequently, of course, the best thing for the grower of gladiolus in this country, was the formation of the American Gladiolus Society. To all who take serious interest in this flower, I would recommend the small monthly publication, "The Modem Gladiolus Grower," published at Calcium, New York, by Mr. Madison Cooper, himself an amateur; this paper is the organ of the American Gladiolus Society, and a very fountainhead of expert information in all matters relating to gladioli.
But to the gladiolus itself! Let me herald first the coming, the glorious coming of the lavender beauty, Badenia by name. No words can paint the beauty of this flower. A true lavender in color, not too blue, its flowers are large, finely expanded, and many open upon the stem at one time.
Countless combinations of this with other flowers crowd upon one's vision. Which would be fairer, an arrangement of like colors? Shall we let Badenia open above a mass of well-staked velvet-purple petunia? Or shall we see it rise above quantities of cool-pink Ostrich Plume aster? Again, we might grow it near palest yellow snapdragon; or, a more subtle arrangement yet, plan to have it late against Salvia azurea, the junction of its stems with the ground masked by rippling
mounds of Phlox Drummondii, var. lutea. All pale yellows and buffs, all rich purples, all blues which are almost turquoise, rise to the mind as I think of the delicious pictures easily created with this noble gladiolus. Badenia has but one serious defect, its price is very high. To remedy that condition let us wish it the Arab wish: "May its tribe increase."
Now for the glorious pair Niagara and Panama. Niagara shall have the first word. Niagara is quite worthy of several descriptions. I therefore give first its commercial one, prefacing that by the fact that it has already secured three honors from horticultural societies, including one from the American Gladiolus Society. "In type," says its originator, "the variety resembles America, but the flowers appear to be somewhat larger, measuring four and one-half inches across. In color the flowers are a delightful cream shade, with the two lower inside petals or segments blending to canary-yellow. The flower spike is very erect and stout and is wrapped with broad dark-green foliage."
Now, to be exact in my own color description of this flower, Niagara is of the tone known as Naples yellow (color chart, Jaune de Naples No. 2). Deep in its throat are lines of faintest lilac (color chart, Rose lilace No. 4). These, however, do not in the least interfere with the general effect of palest yellow or cream given by the whole fine flower.
Two combinations of Niagara with other flowers flew to my mind, as I held this beauty in my hand. Phlox E. Danzanvilliers back of it, ageratum Stella Gurney below and in front. The phlox can be made to hold its bloom for some time — the ageratum, as we know, is incessant. Again, nothing lovelier, thought I, than Niagara with salpiglossis of that dark velvety mahogany known as Faust; or below phlox Von Hochberg. The color at the base of the gladiolus, slight though it is, is very little lighter than the wine-purple of this phlox itself. Lovely, too, should Niagara be with all-lavender hardy asters, especially with that of the barren name of James Ganly.
Panama, a sister of Niagara, was the third captivator of the gladiolus show. I here declare, speaking with all possible calmness, that it is the softest and most charming tone of pronounced rose-pink I have ever noticed in a flower. It makes one think of roses, of the best roses, particularly of Mrs. John Laing, and while I have never fancied the idea which obtains here and there of growing gladioli among roses, because of the leggy look of both roses and gladioli at their best, yet, if it must be done, Panama is the flower to place in our rose-beds! The pink of Panama is that called mauve-rose (color chart, Rose malvace No. 2). Almost invisible markings there are, deep in its throat, of purple-carmine (Carmin pourpre No. 2). A setting of lyme grass, Elymus arenarius, is suggested, with perhaps, near by, a few blooms of the new decussate phlox of luscious pink, ' Elizabeth Campbell. While the phlox is lighter in tone than the gladiolus, the pinks are of precisely the same type, for I have compared the living flowers. Verbena Dolores might furnish the base of this planting to charming advantage.
With the older gladioli, Peace, Dawn, and Afterglow, we have a sextet of what seemed to me the most beautiful of the newer gladioli, America excepted, but America is now established. It will be noticed, too, that I am far too modest to describe my own beautiful namesake, but I own to such a prejudice in favor of this flower and its brilliant and unmatchable flame-pink, that I could not under the circumstances write dispassionately of it.
The above-mentioned sextet, then, I would say, comprises several of the newer varieties of gladiolus whose interesting color and fine form fit them particularly for garden groupings of originality and charm. Of other fine varieties I shall presently speak, but these are really marvellous for beauty. One has but to see them to feel ideas for placing them, flocking softly to one's brain. Next year, oh, next year!
It is impossible to overpraise the cool elegance of gladiolus Peace. Its flowers are milky-white (color chart, Blanc de lait No. 1) with well-defined narrow stripes on the lower petals, far back in the throat, of rosy magenta (color chart, Magenta rougeatre No. 1). The variety is said to be unsurpassed for cutting, as the flowers keep well in water, and buds will open the entire length of the spike. Peace is surely the noblest white gladiolus. Its large flower, the slender violet markings so well within the throat that there is hardly an effect of color, gives one the impression of a pure white spike of bloom which had once looked upon an evening sky.
GLADIOLUS AMERICA BELOW BUDDLEIA
Two gladioli with charmingly suggestive names are Dawn and Afterglow. Dawn, the lovely and poetic both in name and in look, has for its general color salmon-carmine (color chart, Carmin saumone No. 1). In my own tongue I should call this flower suffused with delicate coral-pink — the buds like the palest coral from Naples — these buds, too, gracefully drooping with a large softness peculiarly their own. Dawn — what suggestion in the name! Dawn rising among well-established groups of the Japanese anemones Whirlwind or Beaute Parfaite; Dawn with the sahnon-pink geranium Beaute Poitevine; Dawn in conjunction with Niagara — all these are sure to prove arrangements to charm one's eye in midsummer. There is a salmon-pink balsam above which Dawn might be enchanting. Afterglow greatly caught my fancy. In general tone it is a flesh-pink (color chart, Rose came No. 4), with throat markings, very apparent, lilac-purple (chart, Fuchsine No. 4). A rich salmon of generally the same tone in all its flowers would be my own description of it.
Taconic I had opportunity to observe closely last August; its general color is mauve-rose (Rose malvace No. 2), though the flakes of white very finely distributed over the prevailing tone make it difficult to exactly place the color. Its markings are of carmine-purple (Pourpre carmine No. 3), slim, narrow lines. The effect of the flower was of a beautiful warm pink flaked and feathered with white, as in a Breeder tulip; the markings, however, much more delicate.
Philadelphia and Evolution come next to mind; the former in color mauve-rose (chart, Rose malvace No. 1), clear pale rose-pink tone, fine form, a wide, large flower with sharp, narrow markings in the throat, of carmine-purple (chart, Pourpre carmine No. 3). Evolution's prevailing tone is mauve-rose (chart, Rose malvace No. 1, flaked with No. 4 on the same plate, and with dark oldrose — chart, Rose brule No. 3). The anthers of this pair of lovely gladioli, with their pale-pink tones — the anthers are of the shade called bluish lilac (Lilas bleuitre No. 1) — give genuine distinction to these flowers.
Gladiolus Rosella is a lovely thing. In its main tone carmine-purple (chart, Pourpre carmine No. 1, with its throat markings No. 3 on the same plate), the effect is of a huge flower of rich orchid-like pink, very beautiful, a very open, spreading flower. Rosella above ageratum Stella Gurney cannot fail to be a success in color plantings; Rosella below Salvia azurea, with the annual pink mallow near by; and, last, Rosella with Baron Hulot, that small-flowered but ever-needed gladiolus of the color known as bishop's violet (chart, Violet eveque No. 4). I am myself minded to grow Baron Hulot in the midst of ageratum Stella Gurney — precisely as one lets a colony of tulips appear above forget-me-not; and Baron Hulot would be also most perfect among the fine creamy flowers of chrysanthemum Garza.
With a few very short descriptions I have done. Senator Volland is an interesting flower, the general tone of its petals bright violet (chart, Violet de campanule No. 1). Blotches of amaranth (chart, Amarante No. 4), with yellow-white spaces below these, occur on the inferior petals, with a lovely mottling of the amaranth on these lower petals as well. "Bright violet" does not describe the color of this flower to me as well as pale cool lavender, with richer lavender or purple on the throat, flakes of a true cream color upon the purple. Canary-bird, with its clear light yellow (no visible markings of any other color), is most charming in combination with Senator Volland. And the Senator again might stand to great advantage before tall groups of Physostegia Virginica, var. rosea, the soft rosy false dragon's-head. The color of Canary-bird on the chart is sulphur-yellow (Jaune soufre No. 1).
Isaac Buchanan may not be a new gladiolus but it was new to me — a lemon-flaked soft pink, the flakes giving a charming effect. The flower is not large, but rare in color, and above Phlox Drummondii, var. lutea, an interesting effect should be got. Snowbird is a lovely white with pinkish-violet slender markings in the throat; La Luna, a soft creamy white with a very clearly defined marking of richest Pompeiian red on the throat; California, a pinkish lavender gladiolus, is an excellent color for use with America; Princess Altiare, a very large pure white with royal-purple markings on the lower petals; and Independence, a magnificent salmon-pink, very light in tone, reminding me in a general way of the fine old William Falconer, but far and away better in type — every gladiolus named here is to me worth getting and growing.
I emphatically advise the buying of small quantities of these bulbs as a starter, as one would with fine tulips; the careful labelling, staking, comparing with other flowers differing in form, color, and habit but blooming simultaneously; and, most necessary of all, the note-making in one's little book — that little book which should never be in the house when the gardener is in the garden! I was greatly interested to learn that florists prefer for cutting in some cases, the gladiolus whose stems are allowed to bend and twist as they bloom. A hint of this kind may be valuable for some of us who grow this superb flower mainly to put about our houses. It is easy to see the agreeable variety of line afforded for such purposes by the gladiolus which has not been strictly staked.
On going over what has been said, I marvel at my attempt to write on the glories of this special flower. I have, in the first place, left out so many beauties, such for instance as Sulphur King, Mrs. Frank Pendleton, Jr. (bright rose-pink, a little deeper toward centre of the flower, the lower petals blotched with carmine — so remarkable that a connoisseur writes of it: "Mrs. Pendleton is in bloom, has a five-foot stalk with twenty flowers and a smaller offshoot with twelve; it is simply magnificent"), William Falconer, America, Kunderd's Glory — there are dozens which should come into any writing in connection with this flower. No flower of the garden proves more irresistible to me than this. Its lovely perpendicular line first, lilylike, irislike; then its truly prismatic range of exquisite color. No wonder that hybridizers in Holland, France, Germany, Great Britain, and this country have been earnestly working now for years upon so beautiful a subject, or that amateur hybridizers are beginning to crop out in our own land.
The cultivation of the gladiolus is so exceedingly simple; the results so wonderfully rewarding; the color effects so certain of accomplishment with flowers which come as true to type and color as these; there is everything to praise in this flower, no check to the imagination when forming one's summer plans with lists of it by one's side. Gardens of enchantment might easily be created by the careful use of two annuals such as dark heliotrope, ageratum Stella Gurney, and the lavender, cool, pink, and palest-yellow gladiolus, mentioned in these pages. A mistake of judgment would be almost impossible with these materials in hand.