March 2015: A Moseley Garden

Sunday, 26th April 2015

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I want to turn readers’ attention to planting some real glamour into their gardens this summer in the form of ‘Glamourglads’ a relatively new range of Gladioli. March has always been the traditional time to start planting Gladioli corms and setting them in their flowering positions. It is best done sequentially through April as well to provide a long season of interest. In the past I have planted the corms all at one time resulting in two to three weeks of fabulous colour, but you can get colour from the end of June through to September if they are planted a week apart during the spring and early summer.

They haven’t quite become ‘de rigueur’ in British gardens yet but it won’t be long. In my opinion Gladioli are very much the ‘tulip of the summer’. They are cheap to buy and available in a wide variety of colours and sizes. Traditionally gardeners would lift, dry and store the corms in winter but through recent cold winters, even 2011/2012, I have been leaving clumps out in the ground over winter. It seems that as long as they have been planted at a good depth and deeply mulched in winter, they have flowered reliably each summer since. Certainly this seems true where gardens are lucky enough to have good drainage and lighter soil. Apart from a few pockets of clay this is true for most of us in Moseley.

The corms themselves are on sale in nurseries now, although for the best choice of colours especially the new Glamour Glads go to online suppliers such as www.dutchbulbs.co.uk. These new Glamorous Gladioli are smaller than traditional hybrids and are less likely to fall over. The variety of colours available is even more extensive and can satisfy the most subtle or garish of tastes. If you are unsure where to plant them, I set several batches in pots to grow on and then plant in the bed spaces that naturally appear after the first flush of summer flowering plants comes and goes.

Plant in groups of 3 or 5 rather than in random singularities. Plant them deep in the soil 10 -15 cm at least; this seems to stop the heavy flower spike falling over and amongst other herbaceous plants and shrubs. The memory of either single or lines of tall Gladioli, usually in mixed and highly uncomplimentary colour combinations fighting against the bamboo canes used by desperate gardeners to prop them up still horrifies me.

These easily grown and stunning bulbs are a gift to us gardeners that often struggle to provide flowers all the way through the summer.

A smaller selection is available at Notcutts in Solihull, Bournville Garden Centre and Webbs of Wychbold.

British Gladioli Society at: www.britglad.com