Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Love Hate Relationship

My favourite type of garden is the herbaceous border, and over the years I have been responsible for various sizes and shapes, some of them world famous. The diversity of plants that one can use to create various effects is mind blowing, and once again, on a visit to the gardens at Upton House last weekend, I was reminded of some old favourites in their own borders.

It was while walking through here with Amanda that I came across my own nemesis.


In my mind, never a plant that looks comfortable in any border, be it herbaceous, shrub or flower. The Gladioli looks as though it should stand out and upright like the multi-coloured queen of flowers, but instead appears to always be either pointing off the vertical (essential for this shape and style of border plant), or forced into erectness by having canes tied to every stem, not attractive.

Don't get me wrong, as individual blooms I think that they are absolutely stunning, both in form and colour almost without exception. There can be no doubting their beauty and elegance, as can be clearly seen in this wonderful white specimen below....perfect! Maybe, she is also just TOO showy and grand for outside borders?

or the simple intricacy of this lovely Gladioli 'Bouton'.

or 'Flevo Laguna'.

But they never really work in a garden for me.
I bought Amanda some stems of Gladioli 'Purple Flora', and as usual they did what they do best, displayed in a vase indoors. Ten to fifteen stems just simply arranged off the vertical and in a circle.

Something that even then doesn't appear to work at flower shows, as it all becomes one technicolour nightmare. No, this queen of flowers is a loner, she doesn't need companions to highlight her beauty, and so I will remain that gardener who excludes her from ANY planting schemes, opting instead for the good old display in a vase on the hall table, and shall wince whenever I come across her in a mixed border.

Unless of course 'The Smith's' need a new front man!

Thanks for dropping in!


  1. Hello Gary:
    Yes, we agree, the Gladiolus can look very awkward in a border arrangement whereas as a cut flower in a vase it can be both dramatic and attractive.

    For us,we have always preferred the small flowered Gladiolus such as Gladiolus 'papilio' which we think is a fascinating plant. And, for a touch of drama, spikes of Gladiolus 'byzantinus' were a favourite with us.

    It is positively years since we were last at Upton House and it is quite probably time to return.

  2. AW, I LOVE glads. .but alas. .have never been able to grow them well. Glad for your insightful thinking! Enjoy your weekend.

  3. Glads are great in containers that you sit behind other containers. They work nice as arm bouquets at weddings too with those long stems to tie ribbon on. Here we have to dig up the bulbs in the fall and bring them in for winter. Do you need to do that or can you leave them out all year?

  4. I love gladiolas , but don't have the eye you have to have as a landscaper about them.

  5. Gary!!! Thank you so much. I got the package today and it was awesome. I love the mug and really look forward to planting the seeds. That was really a lot of fun. What a nice thing to receive! Do you know that it was the first package I've rcv'd from overseas? Love the gold metal. Well, it arrived and you made my day:) Thank you very much.

    As for the post. The Glads are really great flowering stalks. The problem we have here comes from our blows them over and makes it impossible to grow this plant outside. So I have to put them in a greenhouse or something similiar. But your are right....they make for very awkward plants when placed with other plants:) Hope you had a good weekend and thanks again for the fun! Chris

  6. Hi Jane and Lance,
    Although 'Papilio' does at least have an 'interest' factor about it, I must admit to 'Byzantinus' are particularly attractive, and they seem to pop up all over the place as self sown seedlings for some reason. I think that these alone could look quite nice scatted throughout any gaps in the borders. Upton House gardens have undergone some wonderful changes and upgrades over the last few years, and with the assistance of a fellow gardener that I used to work with at Compton Acres, and so please do visit. Maybe even meet for a quick cup of tea whilst there?

  7. Hi Melanie,
    Sorry you can't grow 'Glads' where you are, is it just too dry?

  8. Hi Sherlock,
    Container grown Gladioli, never tried it, but clustered with the right selection of other pots could look this space! On the whole, we don't have to take the bulbs up over here, as the ground stays moist/dry enough for them to do well in the ground. I know some die-hards who still insist on taking them up, along with the Tulips and Daffodils, but it really isn't necessary. I would imaging where you are is just too hot and dry to get away with leaving them in though.

  9. Hi Gina,
    I think that my 'eye' causes me more problems than pleasure sometimes, as I visit other gardens. Sometimes I feel far too critical. 'Glads' are always a winner in a vase for me though.

  10. Hi Chris,
    Yey!...So glad it's finally arrived, I was beginning to wonder, as Melanie has already received her's some time ago. I hope the chocolate didn't melt!
    Gladioli are such tricky things to grow, what with the size, height and density of the bloom, and not very aerodynamic, so must be a problem in your neck of the woods! Perseverence is the key....maybe big/thick wooden stakes?.. (joking!) Take care

  11. Thanks for this!

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Shame you are anonymous, care to get in touch?