Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus

Some byzantine glads opened while I was out of town a few days. Flowers have that unerring sense of timing, don’t they?
As I’ve written before, these bulbs are an inferior strain, in that they are not the desired deep magenta, but they’ve reproduced so prolifically there’s probably no turning back or chance of bringing in a better strain. I think it was Beth Chatto who likened the soil of her garden to a fruitcake, densely packed as it was with the years’ accumulation of odds and ends of bulbs turning up in every trowelful of soil, with some bulb or other always getting speared when digging. My soil seems to be reaching fruitcake level, too, and I toss unearthed mystery bulbs onto the paths as I work, too many to care about, whether crocosmia, Dutch iris, allium…only when it’s a lily I inadvertently dig up does recrimination grip my heart.

Whatever the depth of its color, this glad is self-supporting, takes up little room, competes well with grasses, and seems determined to stay. But I may order a few bulbs from one of the better bulb houses like Old House Gardens this fall and segregate them in a pot, just to find out what I’m really missing and if it’s worth the trouble to rogue out this wan impostor. Kind of slouching toward the real G. byzantinus. Naturalizes in the South, hardy to zone 6.


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