I often start my emails with reference to the weather, mostly centered around the dangers of frosts. The heatwave arriving today is something of an unknown. Good practice dictates watering heavily but not too frequently. This encourages deep root growth and stops the plants from becoming lazy. They should have more chance of surviving extreme weather, the next few days will tell.
This week’s email is again being written by son Christopher; I hope you enjoy it.
I have experimented this year with gladioli, mixing the types and colours and planting en masse. Gladiolus, also known as the Sword Lily, is native to the warmer Mediterranean regions and South Africa and will do best planted in full sun with well-draining but moist soil. These plants are often considered old fashioned but seem to be having a renaissance due to the wide array of colour, size, and longevity that can be achieved by staggering the planting.
Selecting your bulbs
While I am partial to a more formal look, selecting colours that complement each other, such as red/pink and white, there really are no rules. Gladioli can look wonderful in assorted colours as part of a cottage garden. You also have to consider height, the taller gladioli are perfect for the back of a herbaceous border, as the flower spikes will tower over other plants and really make an impact. The medium and dwarf flowering varieties can work brilliantly as an underplanting or in amongst shrubs to create colour and draw the eye. It is also worth looking at acidanthera murielae, a sub-species of gladioli. These are smaller, dainty spikes of up to six white flowers and work especially well for cutting.
Planting and care
Gladiolus corms should be planted in a free draining sunny position, at a depth 2.5 times the size of the corm, with 8-10cm (3-4 inches) between them. The smaller dwarf varieties may be planted from October onwards and the larger types from March onwards. One of the more unusual aspects of planting gladioli, like anemones, is that you can extend the flowering time by staggering the planting. If you plant every couple of weeks from mid-March until the end of May you can have a display that will last into the Autumn months.
The plants should be well watered from the moment they begin to appear, and you can apply a tomato feed as they start to flower.
If you live in the North of England or Scotland, the corms should be dug up and stored indoors in a shed or a greenhouse over the winter, or, if in pots can just be moved inside. It is best to do this immediately after the first frost. If in the South of England and only experience milder frosts, they can be left in situ and just covered.
I hope you find the tips above useful, and as always, happy gardening