Gladiolus

Sword Lily

These are not the easily obtainable hybrids—you can find those elsewhere. The beauty of our native South African selections comes from the handsome sword-shaped leaves and spikes of unfussy, often flaring blooms.

Belonging to the Iridaceae family, Gladioli have long been associated with strength of character, and we think its strongly upright, yet graceful presence can fashion an intriguing see-through veil for any border. Place them in a well drained site and, after the bloom is over, support strong corm development by reducing water and trimming the stems to just beneath the lowest flowers. Provide winter protection in colder areas.

You can almost feel the heat as floriferous spikes sizzle with colorful intensity while stiff, ribbed Crocosmia-like blades stand in composed relief. Three white patches daringly dash across the lower petals, illuminating vividly hued cardinal-red flowers.

Seeking out moist niches, sometimes under waterfalls in its indigenous Drakensberg Mountains, this vigorous temptress tolerates summer water, makes an excellent garden plant for warmer climates and can be grown in a favored patio container where winters are cold.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 2-1/4' high x 10" wide.

Hardy to zone 8.

<i>Gladiolus dalenii</i>

Reminiscent of Halloween candy corn colors and nearly in time for that high-spirited tradition, this South Africanís 3 ft. tall flowering spires deliver an alluring display. Grounded by straplike blades reaching up to 2 ft., the ample, well spaced blooms feature pendant, hooded orange petals glowing with yellow throats.

Full of vigor, easy-to-maintain and actively growing in summer, Gladiolus dalenii should receive adequate water throughout the season.

Blooms September–October.

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 8.

<i>Gladiolus oppositiflorus</i> ssp. <i>salmoneus</i>

Native to the grassy cliffs of the Drakensberg Mountains, this high altitude Gladiolus possesses a robust hardiness that defies the exquisite beauty of its flowers.

Ruffled in pretty salmon-pink colors, the showy, 4 in. flared blooms exhibit dark pink-streaked lower petals, and are openly arranged on long slender stems above grassy blades. Appreciative of summer moisture, this lovely bulb flourishes in ordinary garden soil.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 10" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

<i>Gladiolus papilio</i>

Emerging from a swordlike cluster of light green leaves, the arching bronzy stems host numerous slender green and mauve buds, which open into funnel-shaped blossoms distinguished by a soft gray and dusty purple hue on the outside. A subtle gift inside awaits your glance: mothlike markings of maroon and gold decorate the lower milky colored petal segments.

Let a drift of these delicacies accompany Galtonia viridiflora and Kniphofia linearifolia and enjoy their quiet elegance.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 3-1/2' high x 12" & spreading wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

So dainty and exquisite, this South African native is one of our favorite spring blooming bulbs. Rising from a stand of tall, rushlike narrow leaves, each flowering wand produces a trio of upturned, creamy yellow, tubular blossoms. Stippled with bronze and green, the large and lovely, flared flowers give off a sweet almond scent. For an untamed look, plant amidst grasses such as Sesleria and Miscanthus ‘Little Kitten’ or for contrasting foliage try Euphorbia ‘Blue Haze’.

Blooms April – May.

Size: 3' 0" – 12" high x 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 8.

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Fantastic Fall Foliage.... The arresting foliage of these easy-care, low growing perennials remains tidy well into November. Adequate water, mulch and a mid-season trim help ensure their staying power.

November's last hurrah.... The shorter days and cooler nights of November have set the garden ablaze with eye-catching foliar color. By planting an assortment of woody plants as well as herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses, which promote late season allure, a last hurrah is easily achieved. Each of the plants included in this newsletter bestow either plump berries, late blooms, compelling foliage or artful branching patterns. Happy Digging!

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