As the unknown gladioli (possibly 'Vulcano', from a mixed bag of hardy glads) started to fade away, a new wave of taller gladioli took the stage.
I feel pretty confident in saying that this next batch are 'Atom', because this cultivar is rather recognizable and has been around for so long that there's plenty of information about it (including photos) online.
'Atom' was introduced in 1946, grows to around 30-36" tall (noticably taller than 'Vulcano', but still short compared to the average "florist hybrid" gladiolus), and is very distinctive, with "flowers of vermilion red with white edging".
This is a "primulinus" glad, which doesn't mean a whole lot to me, to be honest. All I know is that this type of glad, like the "nanus" gladioli, grow shorter than the huge, frilly hybrids and sport smaller flowers-- but are still completely gorgeous and eye-catching.
(Who could ever argue that a flower as brilliant as this wouldn't attract its share of attention?)
These types of glads are cold-hardier than the hybrids and stand a better chance of returning year after year-- in some climate zones, without being dug up and stored for the winter. (Some still say, however, that digging and storing glad corms is best. My take: Do what you want. I'm just not that dedicated!)
Reading about gladiolus, I'm always surprised by the approach sellers and garden writers feel obliged to take. Not "Hey, look at these beautiful spikes of color!" or "Don't you want something that's easy to grow and gorgeous?!" but "Now, I know the bare mention of glads makes you want to barf, but hear me out! They can actually be okay to grow in the garden!"
Apparently, we're supposed to almost instinctively dislike them. They're too showy. Too gaudy. Too tall. They're "funeral flowers". (Incidentally, I've read that the tuberose also fell out of favor, at some point in the past, because people associated it with funerals.)
So people thought they were lovely enough to want to use them to honor the dead-- and that's a reason to dislike them, now? (Maybe I simply haven't been to so many funerals with gladiolus to have noticed and made an unpleasant association. Then again, maybe it's a personality thing...)
Anyway, please look at the photo below and tell that poor, sweet little flower to its face that you don't like it.
I dare you.
These old-fashioned gladioli (or gladiolas) are supposed to be less-objectionable than the modern hybrids (which I will confess to liking, too). They're smaller, shorter, and less froufrou. They're also less common.
This is my first year growing these types of gladiolus, so I'll be watching carefully to see how they do next year. (How many will come back and will they bloom as well as they did this year?)
If they seem successful, they'll have been a worthwhile investment, and I'll probably order more types. Though many cultivars of old-fashioned glads have been lost or at least become rare, there are still a fair number of color options-- and there are people hybridizing these old-fashioned ones and coming out with new cultivars. (Check out this hobbyist's hybrids. Some striking results!)
There are still some of the mix that have yet to bloom-- and probably more photos of the 'Atom' glads I've yet to upload and edit-- so I hope there will be more gladiolus sightings on this blog in weeks to come.