Now and then I have come across real little Bulb gardens, generally portions of big estates, or gardens within gardens. The idea is one that should be carried out much oftener, and the Lilies share with Eremuri and Kniphofias (Spire Lilies and Red-hot Pokers) the glory of giving chief height.
Some attention is to be given in this chapter to Hardy Gladioli, but for remarks on the kinds of Gladiolus mostly cultivated in beds and pots, Chapter XX (Romuleas, Brodiaeas, Gladioli, Oxalises, Alstroemerias, Watsonias, Etc) should be turned to. My reasons for relegating them to the parts on half-hardy bulbs can be well explained by a quotation from a book published before 1864: 'The wild European species, Gladiolus communis, is perfectly hardy in England, and delights the eye in summer by its tapering spikes of bright red flowers. The bulbs are corms, like those of the Crocus, and only require separation and replanting at intervals of several seasons. Of late years several foreign and highly ornamental species of Gladioli have been introduced, and from these not a few showy hybrids have been raised. They are all more or less tender, safest under pot culture, or in raised beds covered by shutters or sashes in winter, requiring light soil and the complete absence of moisture during their period of rest. If ventured out in the open ground, they must have a well-drained spot, and be covered in winter with 6 inches of dry litter, sawdust, or withered leaves. Established thus, they bloom magnificently, but there is always the danger that some unusually severe frost, or extraordinary continuance of cold and wet, may destroy the whole collection.
Deservedly admired specimens are G. cardinalis, psittacinus, grandiflorus, gandavensis, blandus, versicolor, Colvillei, and ringens, besides varieties and hybrids too numerous to specify here.'
If the experiment of permanent planting of the delicate Gladioli is tried, it should be in south-wall borders, or very sunny rock-gardens, and dry dead leaves should be heaped over them during winter.
Another author, of even earlier date, gave this description:
The Common Corn Flag (Gladiolus Communis) is too tall a flower to be overlooked, and it has a long spike of bells, of elegant shape and bright pink colour. Several varieties of this species are in cultivation, but some of the less general kinds are more brilliant. The superb corn flag (Gladiolus cardinalis) has rich scarlet flowers, spotted with white, and the different orange coloured species are very showy. Almost all our garden Gladioli are natives of the Cape of Good Hope; but these flowers are not limited to that part of Africa, but are to be found scattered over the vast deserts of that country. Backhouse describes one which he saw in Caffraria, which had dense spikes of flowers of a dingy hue, covered with minute purple spots; and other travellers have named them as blooming in all shades of yellow, pink, and brown colours, among the brilliant blossoms which enliven these arid lands. They have bulbous roots and long sword-shaped leaves: the latter suggested their botanic name, from gladiolus, a sword.'
The common Corn Flag, as a matter of fact, is gay magenta-red, and very worthy of culture. If the reader can obtain quantities of different hardy species, and add them to his Herbaceous Border and Rockeries, he will provide a treat annually for himself and his friends!
Gladiolus Segetum, Rosy Cerise, is a delightful shade for filling table vases.
The Galtonia, Mostly Known As Hyacinthus Candicans, a hardy plant of often more than four-foot stature, sends up spikes of handsome fragrant white blossoms from June to October. It may also be cultivated in pots, one bulb put into each pot of six-inch size, in March, or more in tubs, and given the same culture as the Hyacinth, to which it is really not related. Any sunny border will suit it. Planted 6 inches deep it will adorn the place for many years without needing more care than a share in the winter and spring mulches, the waterings and manurial feedings bestowed upon its neighbours.
Day Lilies, Hemerocallis, are hardy herbaceous plants that give rich gold or bronze blooms. They may be grown in the garden, or are useful in pots. Keep almost dry during winter, in cold frames.
Madonna Lily. White. June.
White. June and July.
The Panther Lily. Scarlet and yellow, with brown-purple spots. July. Very tall.
Gold, spotted with sepia. Scented. July.
White, flushed with pink. July.
White, with brown-marked reverse. July.
Yellow and orange. Tall. July.
White, of an ivory shade. Very tall. July and August.
Scarlet and yellow. June and July. There are also crimson and black varieties.
Scarlet. June and July. Only 12 to 15 inches.
Gold, spotted with black.
Canadian Lily. Yellow. July.
Orange. Only 2 feet. July.
The White Golden-rayed Lily of Japan. White, spotted with crimson and gold. Tall. August.
White ground, with red-spotted yellow belt.
White-spotted and striped with crimson.
Pure white, with gold bands.
The Bermuda Lily. White. July.
Scarlet. May. 2 feet.
Scarlet Turk's Cap Lily. July.
Yellow Turk's Cap, black-spotted. July.
White, pink-spotted. July and August.
White and crimson. July and August.
Crimson and white, spotted purple. August.
Apricot. Scented. Very tall. July and August.
The Tiger Lily. Orange-vermilion, spotted with maroon and black. July to September.
Orange-vermilion, spotted with crimson.
White, shaded with lilac. Scented. July and August.
The Cottager's Orange Lily, spotted with black. July.
Apricot-rose. August and September.
All the above Lilies can be grown in pots, and flowered in cold frames, unheated conservatories, or airy rooms. Lilium Harrisii and some others can be gently forced - 'Harrisii' is got to bloom at Christmas by potting it in August and introducing it to heat when it is budding, but it will flower in early spring if September potted, and placed later on in the greenhouse from which frost is just excluded. But, while other Lilies are kept dry after being potted, this species will die under the treatment. Gardeners who find it difficult to keep Lilies safely all winter may buy bulbs, and pot them in January and February. A compost of equal parts of loam, leaf-mould, peat, old cow-manure, and sand may be used, but some growers prefer one part loam, one part peat, half parts each of sand and manure. There must be adequate 'crocking' for draining, a few pieces of charcoal among the crocks, the compost should be rather coarse throughout, and a sprinkling of soot over it all is beneficial.