Monday, September 14, 2009
Charming Abyssinian Glads
~Robert Bridges, "Testament of Beauty"
The Abyssinian Glad is blooming now. Is it a glad or not? Formerly Acidanthera now re-named as Gladiolus callianthus, you’ll find both names still used in catalogs adn package labeling. Old House Gardens says of it’s history, “ collected from the mts of Ethiopia in 1844, it was featured as brand new in Garden and Forest in 1888.
I’m not particularly fond of the standard garden glads….too stiff like soldiers only to flop to one side with the weight of the flowers. They always seemed to need staking, which I don’t like to do, so I got rid of mine long ago.
Then last year I came across the Abyssinian Glad in the Old House Gardens catalog. They look nothing like the regular glads. I couldn’t resist the promise of fragrance and the promise they never need staking.
Fragrant? YES! It is wonderful. So much so that the Old House Gardens newsletter had a “name that fragrance” write-in last year. Submitters used words like…
"Perfumey," Alexa said, "Like lilac, with a touch of . . . ?"
"Honeysuckle," Renee suggested, "lilac and honeysuckle . . . and maybe forsythia?"
"Forsythia? What does forsythia smell like?" everyone asked.
"I love this scent," Jessica said, "but I can't describe it."
"I can't even smell it," Scott lamented.
“A delicate jasmine”
“They smell only like Abyssinian glads! I know of no other fragrance quite like theirs. All I need do is step out of my front door and their scent reaches me from 50 feet away.”
“Definitely an angel-trumpet-type fragrance (Datura), perhaps tending a bit toward its relative, Brugmansia. “
“...smell like Easter lilies."
Enough said to convince you to try them? I am at a loss as to a comparison…perhaps wisteria? Nontheless…they are wonderful. If you want fragrance to greet you in your garden (I’m not sure about 50 feet away though) you simply must try them. Put them on your bulb buying list for next spring, when they hit the stores. My first ones were mail order but sadly didn’t survive last winter which was especially cold here. I’ve also seen them at the Pacific Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, as well as Fred Meyer (aka Krogers) when their spring bulbs come in. They bloom in late summer, are hardy to USDA zone 7 so may or may not winter-over where you are. I’ll buy them as annuals if necessary, they are that wonderful.
In bloom in my garden today: cyclamen coum, colchicum, lycoris, cicimifuga, hosta lancifolia, caryopteris, Echinacea, salvia, daphne, roses, coreopsis, hardy geranium, nepeta, solanum crispum, gauara, fushia, canna, schizostylis, green beans, zucchini, borage, alpine strawberries.
Photo courtsey of Pat Chissus