Gladiolus papilio

Tony Avent
Tue, 06 Mar 2007 12:15:05 PST

You are correct about the farming aspect of many Dutch Growers.  At the 
same growers fields, we were looking through their Oriental Lily 
Breeding plots and spotted a flowering plant with stunning white 
bordered leaves. We were told that they find 1 or 2 vareigated lilies 
each year, but destroy them.  We asked about the fate of this lily and 
we were told that it could be sold at their standard price of 10,000 
Euros for each clone selected, and there was no interest in such a 
clone.  I actually thought about it for a moment before moving on.  I'm 
reminded of the Jimmy Carter quote, "I have lusted in my heart..."

Tony Avent
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
phone 919 772-4794
fax  919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it least three times" - Avent

John Grimshaw wrote:
> As Tony Avent says, the commonly grown form of G. papilio is not very 
> attractive but extremely hardy and vigorous. Anyone who wishes to start a 
> breeding programme with it can come and extract a few hundred from the rock 
> garden at my parents' garden. I have read that the species was used in early 
> breeding work to add purple colours to the large-flowered hybrids, and that 
> it also conferred hardines that was bred out (wilfully or otherwise) in 
> later generations.
> I was astonished by the startling white and red version of the species shown 
> in Roy Herold's picture from the Kamsberg - now that really would be worth 
> growing! In circulation in the UK are plants named 'Purpureo-auratus 
> Group' - this being an invalid synonym for forms with yellow and dull red 
> flowers. They are very distinct and much more attractive than the 
> afore-mentioned thug. Also less vigorous, and the plant I bought a couple of 
> years ago failed to emerge the next spring , I think more likely due to a 
> mouse than through tenderness. (I have a picture that I would upload to the 
> Wiki if only I could get the thing to do it! Please would some kind person 
> let me know what the password is.)
> Becoming better known in the UK now is a very fine hybrid (said to have been 
> raised in New Zealand) sold as G. papilio 'Ruby', which has velvety quite 
> bright red flowers with darker blotches on the lower segments. It seems to 
> be quite hardy and is an extremely useful garden plant.
> There is no doubt that the options from using G. papilio as a parent are 
> vast and it would be great to see more use being made of it.
> In the question of the Dutchman's attitude, we have to remember that the 
> Dutch bulb-growing community are for the most part interested only in 
> farming bulbs - they are not plantsmen, and make no pretence to be so. They 
> want a quick, safe return with familiar, growable items. One shudders to 
> think at the gems that are discarded because their rate of increase is 
> insufficient.
> I have to confess that much though I prefer the species, I rather like some 
> large-flowered Gladiolus - so long as they have a nice colour. One has to 
> think of them in different terms to the species, but they can be extremely 
> effective in a mixed border. I had one last year called (at least on the 
> packet) 'Mediterranee', with beautiful soft blue-mauve flowers that looked 
> fantastic with Agastache 'Blue Fortune' and went on for months as 
> inflorescences kept emerging. Another star was 'Emerald Spring' with 
> wonderful green flowers, which I defy the most hard-bitten anti-Glad types 
> to dislike.
> John Grimshaw
> Dr John M. Grimshaw
> Sycamore Cottage
> Colesbourne
> Nr Cheltenham
> Gloucestershire GL53 9NP
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