August in an Indiana Garden

Jim McKenney
Sun, 21 Aug 2005 18:35:20 PDT

The old Cyclopedia of American Horticulture (1904) gives the parentage of
Gladiolus x gandavensis as G. psittacinus x G. cardinalis; an alternative
parentage is also given: G. psittacinus x G. oppositiflorus. The colors are
given as  "bright shades of red and red-yellow variously streaked and
blotched". Gladiolus primulinus and its hybrids are not even mentioned in
this edition.

In the 1925 edition of the same work, Gladiolus primulinus is described as
having been discovered in 1887 and first flowered in 1890; the color is
described as being "clear primrose yellow throughout". The "throughout" I
think is as significant as the "clear primrose yellow",  since the old
gandavensis sorts were described as streaked and blotched. 

The second edition discusses nearly forty species of Gladiolus, but neither
edition mentions the name Gladiolus dalenii. 

I suspect that the old gandavensis hybrids were very different from the the
primulinus hybrids: the primulinus hybrids created a sensation in the glad
world around the time of the First World War, and were widely praised for
their graceful form both of bloom and overall inflorescence and their then
novel colors. 

I've seen old paintings and old photos of old garden glads and "graceful" is
not the word which comes to mind. Clunky is more like it. The primulinus
hybrids are nothing like that. 

I have always thought that these pale yellow "hooded" "primulinus" hybrids
are among the loveliest of hybrid glads.

In other words, I think gandavensis hybrids and primulinus hybrids are very
distinct groups - or maybe I should say were at one time very distinct,
because both were long ago swallowed up in the main mass of glad hybrids.  

Several nurseries are selling something they are calling Galdiolus x
gandavensis, but all of the ones I've seen have been primulinus hybrids (or
should I be saying daleni hybrids? Old habits die hard.).

Do any true Gladiolus x gandavensis hybrids survive? I don't know, but they
had their hayday over 150 years ago, and it seems unlikely. And since glads
were continually and enthusiastically re-hybridized during the nineteenth
century, identifying such a thing with certainty strikes me as really

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I'm glad to have glads
in the garden.  

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