The people's voice of reason

Plant Of The Month - Gladiolus

March madness in our part of the country describes the many tasks that befall the avid gardeners when the temperatures get warmer and we suddenly see our gardens with a clear eye. Where does one start? I always start with the planning instead of the planting. If we made a rough plan last fall, then time to get it out and make decisions. Are we changing color schemes? Should we add perennials and biennials? Should we have a formal plan where we have long swaths or entire area with one plant and one color? But if we are pleased with last year's spring look, just repeat.

This is also a great time to sow seed for spring bloom and we look for cool weather annuals If you have a low border to fill in, while it is still cool, get Sweet Alyssum seed, place a top layer of soil, and sow away. A great thing about alyssum is that you can sow it thick and do not have to thin out the seedlings. I prefer the white, but it also comes in lilac, yellow, and a deep purple. When the seeds germinate, they bloom almost at the same time. So there is no down time waiting for blooms, which is a real plus for us in this region, because when the heat comes, the Sweet Alyssum goes. These ground hugging plants make a nice transition between early spring and flowers we can plant in May for the summer. They will do great in containers and are lovely in rock gardens.

I read a lot of garden articles and came across an interesting fact regarding a prehistoric tree. Botanists throughout the world thought the dawn redwood (metasequoia glyptostroboides) was extinct. To everyone's surprise, the million year old "extinct" species was located in the 1940's in China. Plant scientists compared the tree samples with fossils found from the Mesozoic Era and confirmed it was a tree unknown to the scientific world. By 1946, the tree was confirmed one and the same of the extinct tree, giving it the above name, which means it is like the Glyptostrobus, the Chinese swamp cypress. Seeds were taken from this tree in China and shipped to the Arnold Arboretum where trees were grown in the U.S. The trees has become the national pride of China, and in one town, there is an avenue of these trees which is about 45 miles long and contains over a million trees. I believe today, the once thought to be an extinct tree, has made a tremendous come-back. So thanks to the Chinese forester, Chan Wang, for his contribution to modern Botanical science.

When ever I give a garden talk, I occasionally ask the group why do you garden? Over the years I have heard so many reason that I thought I would share a few:

1. Some garden so that their family would have safe produce which include food free from bacteria and pesticides, free from additives and preservatives, and to give their food a fresh from the garden taste.

2. Others garden for the exercise.

3. Some like to garden to be creative.

4. Some garden for the pleasure of viewing God's beauty.

5. Others garden to attract wild life-butterflies, birds, etc.

6. Some garden to experience an emotional and spiritual satisfaction.

7. Others garden in order to learn about plants and how to keep them healthy.

8. Others garden for the social contact they have with other gardeners, which explains why we in this area have so many great garden clubs.


Glads are an old fashioned flower and a very favored perennial. The first hybrid glads appeared in 1837 and were formerly called Acidanthera. They are not seen growing in the garden as much as 20 years ago but are simple to grow from bulbs placed in a sunny location with any type soil. We see the dramatic flowers in the floral departments of grocery stores and florists. The flowers march up a long stalk and the plant grows up to 6 feet in height. To keep the glads from leaning, plant the bulbs about double the requirement. They have such a variety of colors, really the whole spectrum of the color charts. Some are even multi-colored. The name comes from the Latin word gladius which means sword. Roman history is replete with the actions of the gladiators.



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