This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The genus Gladiolus-now comprehends many brilliant species and varieties, and is fast increasing in interest with the floral world. The variety of colors, together with the beauty of its varied stripes and mark-ings, and its graceful habit, recommend it as well worthy the attention of the florist or amateur. Like most bulbous plants, Gladioli thrive and flower with less care than most florist's flowers. Being comprised of early and late kinds, they blossom at various seasons of the year: the earliest sorts commence flowering in June when planted in the open air, and many of the late kinds continue in blossom up to the very approach of winter. They are perfectly hardy, and may be grown in any common garden soil not retentive of moisture; but should the soil be heavy where they are intended to be planted, it should be removed to the depth of about two feet, and replaced by a light rich soil, composed of a mixture of sandy loam and leaf-mold, or sandy loam and peat, allowing six or nine inches for the drainage.
The Colvillii kinds come very early into flower; they are of taller growth than others of the early sorts, and are of erect, slender habit. They include Colvillii, Colvillii blandus, Colvil-lii super bus, odoratus, tristis, and others; they are succeeded by a more numerous class, which generally commence flowering about two weeks later; the latter are composed of varieties varying from a foot to a foot and a half in height; they comprise a great diversity of colors.
Other varieties are later, and mostly commence flowering about the end of July, or in August; they are of stronger habit than the preceding kinds, and exceedingly rich, though not so varied in their colors as the earlier sorts. They produce a longer succession of flowers; many of them throw up lateral spikes of bloom to the latest period of autumn ; and vigorous plants, lifted and potted, continue to bloom during the winter.
The varieties of Floribundns, Gandavensis, and other late tall-growing varieties, chiefly come later into flower than roost of the above. Of these. Splendens is a very noble variety, of a rich orange scarlet, with much larger flowers than Gandavensis. Psittacinus sanguineus, is a good dark one. Brenchleyensis is another splendid addition to this class.
For pot-culture the Gladiolus is very suitable, making a beautiful show among other plants in the green-house or conservatory, and where a large collection is kept, some may be had in in flower nearly all the year round. In potting, the roots should not be cramped; they require a fair portion of pot-room. Sandy loam and peat, or leaf-mould, or any light rich soil, the pots being well drained, suits them well. When first planted, as is the case with saoat other bulbs, they will not bear forcing; they should be allowed to progress gradually, by placing them in a cool frame or pit, and keeping the soil in a tolerably dry state till they have made considerable growth; after which they may be brought into the green-house, or where they are required to flower. They make floe specimens when planted several bulbs in a pet.
This lovely tribe of plants opens a wide field for the hybridist, and the aatatear would find it an interesting engagement, in which his skill and time would be richly rewarded. In endeavoring to obtain crosses, the choice should not only be directed to the color and size of the flowers, but chiefly to their expanding habit and breadth of petals; for although there are many fine sorts which do not possess each of these latter qualities, yet they should be the points to be aimed at in our progress towards the improvement of the tribe. Seedlings of the early varieties usually flower the second summer after sowing, and the later varieties the third. - Beck's Florist.
The Gladiolus is taking a very prominent place as a bedding plant and show flower, and deservedly so. As a out flower for public exhibitions, there are few that surpass it. It will take its place among the flowers for the million. When examining Mr. Bridgeman's fine collection, we selected a few of the best for a plate; this, unfortunately, was ruined. We present, however, a charming variety copied from the London Florist, and named Mrs. Reynolds Hole. It is described as follows : "It is very beautiful, of average size, with all the desirable qualities of form and substance, and is in all respects a perfect painted lady. The color is white, marked with numerous bars and streaks of rosy crimson, the markings being more crowded and confluent toward the ends of the sepaline segment, so as to form richly colored variegated tips. The large upper petaline segment is longer than the sepaline parts, which it resembles in color, but is rather less freely marked; while the two smaller lower petaline divisions, which are rose flaked at the top, are dashed with a rich creamy buff lower down, and, as well as the lowest sepal, have a crimson, feather-like marking up the center. At the mouth of the contracted tubular part there is a rosy star.
Our figure, drawn from some of the earlier blooms, does not show the flaked tips of the two small petaline divisions, nor the bold feather-like mark just described, which are present in the specimen from which our notes are drawn up." The variety here described was raised by Mr. Standish, of the Bagshot nursery, a noted grower of Gladioli. Messrs. Bridge man, Buchanan, and other of our growers have raised a large number of seedlings, and we expect to have from them something new and meritorious.