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Gladiolus tristis
at Digging Dog

Yellow Marsh Afrikaner

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.

Gladiolus tristis full sun

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 wide; hardy to zone 8.

Gladiolus tristis (P-1125)
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Other selections in this genus


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I wanted this arrangement to celebrate the diverse beauty that autumn affords. It was photographed by acclaimed garden photographer, Saxon Holt, who happened to be visiting us.

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Here at Digging Dog, we’ve had some welcome rain to actually soak the soil. With the onset of shorter days and chilly nights, a quieter contemplative mood envelopes parts of the garden. As many herbaceous plants are fading into dormancy, evergreen shrubs, bold-toned leaves, textural seed-heads plus plump glistening berries take center stage. The impressive group of plants featured in this newsletter caught my eye when I strolled through the nursery and garden yesterday. I hope you enjoy these compelling autumnal offerings. In many locales throughout the country, there’s still time to tuck some botanical gems into an empty garden nook.

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