As currently gentle thunderstorms move through the area, with the promise of more thunder and lightning to come, I thought I'd post a quick piece that has been rattling around in my brain for a while now ... how and why this particular gladiolus came into bloom about a week ago ...
You see, we have this little bed in front that was the original bulb planting we did when we were still renting the house about seven years ago. It's due for a major overhaul this fall, where we intend to build up another boulder bed, dig up all the bulbs and re-plant them along with some new additions. Nothing particularly odd about that plan, and with any luck, we'll actually pull it off this year. In any case, this bed, home to snowdrops, fritillarias, crocus, daffodils and some prize tulips, has pretty much languished in the summer months the past couple of years, as we have devoted more time and attention to other areas in the front boulder plantings. I used to plant nasturtiums there every summer to fill in the area, but have slacked seriously on that as well, and aside from a volunteer hollyhock last year, there hasn't been much there the past two summers.
Well, that's only part of the story. Of the many different plants we've tried in this space in the intervening years, the one that has given us the most frustration and no reward is Crocosmia "Lucifer." A wonderfully blazing red flower that blooms in the summer ... which we've never seen come to fruition in this bed. We planted one or two bulbs about five or six years ago, and each year we saw the foliage grow, look healthy and happy, only to never see any flowers from it. So basically, we just gave up on it ever doing anything ... until this year, when it arose once again, flourishing and offering great promise for once. Neither of us gave it much mind, given that we've not seen any flowers, but about a week and a half ago I noticed there was a bloom stalk coming up from the base of the plant. Hope was rekindled that we'd finally see Lucifer blaze gloriously at last. Then, as the bloom stalk developed more, we began to wonder ... though Crocosmia's foliage does vaguely resemble that of a gladiolus, we still thought we might finally be rewarded. Then, on about July 16 or so, we had proof. This was no Lucifer, in fact it wasn't even red! It was PINK!!! It was, in fact, a gladiolus. A most lovely one, to be sure, but a gladiolus.
Now, for those not familiar with Iowa winters, this represents a big deal. Gladiolus, as most of us know them, are not hardy here. And further, we have never planted gladiolus in this particular spot in our garden. We used to have some behind the house which we faithfully dug up for a couple of years before we found it to be too much bother and let them die off. But in the front garden, nuh uh, never been there. So... this is the mystery behind this lovely flower that arose to liven up an otherwise left to its own devices bed (overrun with violets!) that would not grace us with Lucifer, but did manage somehow to reward us with an astounding gladiolus.
It's a garden surprise, that's the best I can come up with at this point. One of those flukes of nature that reminds us that despite our best efforts to be masters of the floriferous terrain, we don't always have the last say. And a gentle reminder from nature that She has her own ways can be a most pleasant garden surprise. Oh, and we were delighted to see this surprise ... and I think we'll try Lucifer again sometime next year in a different spot.
And, as a final aside, I should say this was not the "surprise" I originally intended to post tonight, but I hope to do that tomorrow. I just didn't get the pictures taken tonight, given the stormy weather and some FM-inspired slackitude. I think this does pretty well though for providing some nice eye candy.
Note: the other day we came home from work and this was broken over, either by wind or by children, so we cut it off and brought it inside. The last bud opened today. We'll miss this trooper, and wonder if we'll see it again next year ... especially if our grand plan to re-plant the bed doesn't pan out ... so I'll have to keep you posted on that.
NOW ... off to bed to listen to gentle thunder in the distance ....