This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Finding that my remarks at the close of last year, p. 295, respecting the hardiness of the Gladioli tribe have elicited some observations from a correspondent who does not unite with me on that point, 1 am induced to give my reasons for saying they are hardy. We have grown them for many years in our Nursery; and our whole collection, both of the early and late kinds, is annually planted in the open ground. The early varieties, which are planted in October and November, are left to take the chance of severe winters without any protection whatever; and the loss of roots from growing them in this way is of rare occurrence: they grow vigorously and bloom freely. I am willing to admit that they may be lost on soils of a heavy or retentive nature, like many other hardy bulbs; and I would advise all cultivators on such soils to guard against this by proper attention to drainage and preparation of beds, as I recommended last December. With regard to their " tendency to early growth," my practice will be found to check this to a considerable extent. Roots kept under glass before turning out in the spring will necessarily be brought to maturity earlier than those treated in a more natural way, inducing a habit to push into growth before they are required for the next autumn planting.
I allow that " many of the varieties are in a growing state early in November" under my natural mode of treatment; but few are seen above ground till after danger of frost is over. In cases where they have not been taken up in the summer, and therefore made their appearance very early, they have proved themselves quite hardy. I would recommend the writer at p. 14 to pursue my course with those sorts which he considers tender, and I have no doubt he will succeed.
In the culture of bulbs, I consider it always desirable to treat them as hardy where it can be done with safety, by which means a more vigorous stock is kept up than when artificial means are resorted to. By a more natural mode of cultivation an immense deal of time is saved; and the culture of an abundant tribe, like the Gladiolus, can thus be carried on to a much greater extent.
Seed and Horticultural Establishment, Sudbury, Suffolk, Jan. 8, 1850.
I trust that Mr. Brown's statements on this subject may prove satisfactory to those who may be inclined to follow his directions.
Should Gladioli prove hardy, as he states, I will with pleasure give up the point, and acknowledge myself wrong; but from various experiments which I have made, I must still beg to differ from Mr. Brown. I am of opinion that, except hybridising, or in other words, except the disposition to early growth is prevented, which I think cannot be done without hybridising with the Gandavensis section, Gladioli will not prove perfectly hardy.
Alford. J. Cole.